A Thomas Jefferson Education?

May 31, 2008 | 246 comments
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UPDATE (8/12/13):  When I wrote this post, I had no idea what was going on “behind the scenes.”  Please be sure to read this–it concerns accusations of fraud against DeMille and his ouster from GWC.

 

For the uninitiated, Thomas Jefferson Education (hereafter TJE) is a method of homeschooling–a method very popular among Mormons.

TJE as a homeschooling method grew out of the pedagogy of George Wythe College (hereafter GWC), which in turn grew out of the educational vision of Oliver DeMille. (The majority of the following information comes from “the definitive history of George Wythe College” [hereafter GWCH] available in its entirety here.)

DeMille began his education at BYU but left mid-program under the advice of Cleon Skousen, who suggested he study at Coral Ridge Baptist Univeristy (hereafter CRBU). CRBU is (or was?) a ministry of Coral Ridge Baptist Church and is exempt from accreditation procedures because its courses are religious in nature.

DeMille was awarded the following degrees:

BA from Coral Ridge Baptist University in Biblical Studies
MA from Coral Ridge Baptist University in Christian Political Science
PhD from Coral Ridge Baptist University in Religious Education

The PhD was awarded 24 months after the BA was awarded. As far as I can determine, CRBU does not currently have a web presence; this Amazon review claims to quote from its old web materials but I cannot verify its accuracy.

DeMille then earned a JD from LaSalle University (but not the LaSalle); the GWCH notes that “He hadn’t been impressed with LaSalle’s program, but they had at least required serious study and he had learned a lot about jurisprudence.” Within a few years of his graduation, LaSalle was shut down by the FBI; the operator went to jail for fraud.

Then DeMille founded and became president of GWC and also was a law professor there. While the GWCH notes that he originally left BYU for CRBU because “Oliver wanted the real thing, not just the appearances of credibility,” DeMille then returned to BYU (after completing his BA, MA, PhD, and JD) to earn a BA. At some point in this chronology, DeMille also was awarded a degree from what he only later found out was a “diploma mill;” he destroyed the degree.

The following statement should give you a feel for DeMille’s worldview:

The New World Order, which George Bush has made part of everyday vocabulary, is world government. It is sponsored by Satan and his followers, whose power is based on secret combinations, secret oath-bound societies, world financial institutions, New Age religious organizations, and a number of global movements including humanism, communism, socialism, fascism, nazism, democratic socialism, feminism, Marxism, environmentalism, and monopolistic capitalism.

Or it would, but after publishing a book titled “Christ versus Satan: The New World Order,” he later decided that he had been mistaken and recanted. (The GWCH refers to his flirtation with extreme right-wing ideology as one of two “glaring mistakes” DeMille made.)

What of GWC itself? GWC is a very small–but growing–operation; although it offers a PhD in Constitutional Law, it has only one law professor listed on its faculty page. The GWCH includes this statement from a student about the school: “I didn’t notice it was in a basement; all I noticed was that people were reading, talking, and thinking, but not necessarily in that order.”

The college established a core pedagogy and, after trying a few different names, settled on calling it “A Thomas Jefferson Education.” (More on its specifics later.)

Due to financial troubles, the college had to lay off its faculty in 2002. After a brainstorming session, a solution to the school’s financial situation was determined to be found in, according to the official history of the college, “three major concepts . . . : speaking, seminars, and products.” In other words, the college would continue to exist by making money off of selling its pedagogical vision, mostly to homeschoolers. Since developing this financing plan, GWC has achieved a modicum of growth and its financial distress has significantly decreased.

What do these speakers, seminars, and products look like? You can’t go very long on a homechooling email list without seeing an announcement for the “Face to Face with Greatness” seminar, which costs $350. I have not attended one, but they have been described to me as having the feel of a MLM scheme: you attend a free seminar in someone’s home where no “nuts and bolts” are given but you are promised great insight if you attend the expensive conference locally, where you are promised greater insight if you attend another seminar at GWC . . .

As far as materials, if you take a peek around the GWC bookstore, you will see that it bears little resemblance to a college bookstore but has the feel of a homeschool supply outlet. (I will say more about some of their materials later.)

While it appears that something like 90% of the TJE leaders and homeschoolers are LDS, specific LDS affiliation and references are not made and this has led at least one evangelical homeschooler to conclude that this is a marketing ploy since it is common knowledge that conservative Christians would not support a pedagogy developed by LDS and based on LDS thought. (I would note that I don’t think it quite fair to call TJE “based on LDS thought” but rather “based on a particular strain of LDS thought associated with people such as Cleon Skousen.”) Despite the fact that TJE claims no denominational affiliation, those interested in it eventually find out that is is an almost completely LDS enterprise.

So that is the origin of TJE. But what is TJE itself? The basic idea behind TJE is rooted in the fact that Thomas Jefferson was mentored by George Wythe and that great leaders are mentored, not run through the “conveyor belt” of a public school (or a similarly-structured homeschool experience). However, Thomas Jefferson was an adult with a college degree when he was mentored by Wythe. Before that time, he had the education standard to his day and status: a classical education, heavy on Greek, Latin, history, and memorizing boring things. So the actual “Thomas Jefferson Education” involved (1) a classical education, (2) a standard college degree, and (3) mentoring as a youngish adult.

Further, TJE is almost completely at odds with what Thomas Jefferson himself outlined as a proper education, which you can read about here, starting on page 271.

TJE itself is organized around seven main principles:

• Classics, not Textbooks
• Mentors, not Professors
• Inspire, not Require
• Quality, not Conformity
• Structure Time, not Content
• Simplicity, not Complexity
• You, not Them

Let me address some of these ideas:

Classics, not Textbooks

I firmly agree that literature and history are almost always better taught from classic books than from textbooks. However, a lot depends on how you define “classics.” While I’ve seen different definitions in different TJE materials, there is a list on classics on the TJE website; here are some of the 26 titles from that list:

Louis L’Amour, The Lonesome Gods
Ralph Moody, Little Britches
Oliver Van DeMille, A Thomas Jefferson Education
Spencer Johnson & Constance Johnson, The One Minute Teacher
Stephen R. Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Of course, “studying the classics” can mean various things; as one homeschooler put it:

the whole emphasis in studying the ‘classics’ in TJEd is on the self – how do I feel about this? What does it mean to me? There is no objectivity, no attempt to get inside the structure or themes of the book except on the most superficial level. For Homer, for example, the study questions consist of nothing but a list of terms and the question ‘How do these fit into your worldview’ – the implied answer being, ‘They don’t.’ Case closed.

Here is a statement from DeMille himself that is suggestive of how he interacts with the classics:

I can’t remember who said it, I think it was Goethe, maybe it was Mendel, I’m not sure. One of the greats that I read said, “If you want to be great in any field, it’s a three-step process. Study the greatest master of that field, learn all the rules that he used in order to become great, learn those, master those and know them well and then, forget the rules.

(If anyone has an accurate attribution for that sentiment, please let me know.)

I would note that some of the auxiliary materials coming out of the TJE movement, such as this book, have been well received by the (non-LDS) homeschooling community and, from what I have heard, offer good insights into incorporating the classics into homeschooling.

Mentors, Not Professors

The idea of having mentors for children (especially homeschooled children) is an excellent one. The problem is that TJE defines it in opposition to professors. Credentials are downplayed strongly in the TJE world (although GWC is currently seeking accreditation). Here is a link to the faculty page of TJE; I estimate that two of their faculty would be considered qualified to teach at a traditional university.

Inspire, not Require and Structure Time, not Content

(“Structure Time, not Content” means that the parents sets aside time as “learning time” but do not mandate which activities will be done during that time.)

Here’s an excerpt from an interview with DeMille:

ML: What about the type of unschooling family that believes that if the kid never wants to learn to read really well or write paragraphs really well, that we should not force him/her to do it, ever. What do you think about that?

OD: My personal opinion is, I think that’s fine.

ML: So what if a child was 16 and he couldn’t write a paragraph or do math?

OD: It would be because he chose not to.

He does go on to say that he thinks this set-up would be unlikely in a mentoring situation. But when push comes to shove, DeMille doesn’t believe in shoving. What DeMille is advocating–even in Texas, which is known for its extremely lax homeschooling laws–is illegal. It is also, especially for LDS parents, immoral: we have an obligation to teach our children a basic core of knowledge that will allow them to do things such as serve missions, serve the church, earn a living, interact in the community, and enrich their minds, not to mention comply with prophetic counsel to get all of the education that they can.

You, not Them

The idea here is that the parent leads by example; the children should see their mother studying the classics on her own. That’s a great idea.

To conclude, there are significant numbers of people planning the entirety of their children’s educations around TJE and at least one charter school using these principles (see here), which the official history of GWC calls “an excellent charter school in Idaho” and which has recently lost its charter due to low test scores.

I believe that TJE is an impoverished pedagogy with dubious origins that, when implemented in a homeschooling setting, may be illegal in certain cases. The continued spread of TJE is an embarrassment to the LDS community and the homeschooling community. As a member of both, I encourage you to avoid TJE while at the same time I acknowledge that some of its practitioners are well-intentioned people providing their children with quality educations and that some of its auxiliary materials are useful.

UPDATE: Here is a link to a talk covering the basics of TJE by DeMille. (I believe that there are errors in it from transcription or digital conversion so we probably don’t need to hold DeMille responsible for that, but the content of this talk is must-read for anyone thinking about TJE.)

UPDATE TWO: Two readers with access to the original edition of TJE (including one TJE supporter) have confirmed to me that DeMille claims on page 22 that he graduated from BYU before he went to CRBU. I do not have the book and haven’t seen it with my own eyes, but anyone considering TJE should determine for themselves whether DeMille lied in print about his credentials and what this says about “leadership education” and “moral greatness” from studying the classics.

UPDATE THREE: From this website, you can read the file “DiplomaDeMille.doc.” It has links to all sorts of DeMille materials that I couldn’t otherwise find on the web, including this gem:

“No classic is more important than the Book of Mormon, yet is [sic] has never been used as a central curriculum like the Old Testament, New Testament and the Koran. Not only does the Book of Mormon contain all the necessary fields of study, at levels from Kindergarten to Doctoral studies, it also provides its own specific guidelines for how and what to study—both for religious and secular education. In short, it is the classic of classics, and it’s about time to start utilizing it as such.”

That same document contains some delightful quotes from the CRBU (where DeMille claimed he got the best education) catalog, including this gem: “More people than any other singular language in the world use the Spanish language worldwide.” (Not only is the sentence a train wreck, but it isn’t true.)

UPDATE FOUR: DeMille’s conspiracy theory book is actually The New World Order: Choosing Between Christ and Satan in the Last Days and was published (with co-author Keith Lockhart) in 1992, after DeMille’s classical mentoring education and after he founded GWC. (So much for a “youthful mistake.”)

UPDATE FIVE: A blog for those who want to learn more.

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246 Responses to A Thomas Jefferson Education?

  1. Sarah on May 31, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    How popular is this, really? I mean, is this the A Beka/Bob Jones University of LDS homeschooling? I would have thought that’d be someone more like The School of Abraham.

    That is to say, it doesn’t surprise me that there are wacky homeschooling-related companies that appeal primarily to LDS parents. But I’d be pretty surprised to learn that this particular one appeals to a very large number of LDS parents. Like those MLM schemes, I guess — how many LDS people really participated in Amway?

  2. Julie M. Smith on May 31, 2008 at 12:16 pm

    Sarah, there are no official numbers that I know of so I can’t answer your question exactly but I can offer what I have seen: I’d estimate that I know maybe 20 LDS homeschooling families in real life and that maybe half of them use and advocate TJE. There are also aggressive efforts being made right now in Texas to recruit for TJE. I have no idea if this is representative.

  3. Kaimi Wenger on May 31, 2008 at 1:16 pm

    “I believe that TJE is an impoverished pedagogy with dubious origins that, when implemented in a homeschooling setting, may be illegal in certain cases. The continued spread of TJE is an embarrassment to the LDS community and the homeschooling community.”

    Amen, Julie. Your analysis seems exactly right.

    “Here is a link to the faculty page of TJE;”

    Do you mean, the faculty page of GWC?

    By the way, you do realize that one bloggernacle solo-blogger (who certainly posts his share of wacky conspiracy posts) is also a student at GWC?

  4. Mark IV on May 31, 2008 at 1:19 pm

    Where was this outfit when I was going to college? If only I had know I could have gotten a degree by reading Louis L’Amour.

    There’s one born every minute. I can’t remember who said that, probably Goethe or Shakespeare or somebody.

  5. Julie M. Smith on May 31, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Kaimi, yes, thank you for that correction.

  6. cchrissyy on May 31, 2008 at 1:32 pm

    Wow Julie, I had no clue.
    I know classical homeschoolers in and out of the church but come to think of it, the LDS ones are all specifically doing TJEd.
    I have read De Mille and found plenty to like, but of course there was also some not to like and I was totally uninformed at the time about everything you put forth above. so wow, and thanks.

  7. Ardis Parshall on May 31, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    I can’t remember who said it, I think it was Goethe, maybe it was Mendel, I’m not sure. One of the greats that I read said, “If you want to be great in any field, it’s a three-step process. Study the greatest master of that field, learn all the rules that he used in order to become great, learn those, master those and know them well and then, forget the rules.

    That’s a bastardization of a quotation if I ever saw one. I think — wouldn’t swear to it, because I doubt DeMille ever got close to this — but I think it’s a kinda sorta wacky shortcut paraphrase of Sir Joshua Reynolds, the 18th century artist, in one of his lectures on art criticism to the Royal Academy:

    The writer did not interfere with the teaching of the professors; but it was his aim to deal with the general principles underlying the art. He started by pointing out the dangers of facility, as there is no short path to excellence. When the pupil’s genius has received its utmost improvement, rules may, possibly, be dispensed with; but the author adds: “Let us not destroy the scaffold until we have raised the building.”

    If you think that’s close enough to be the source, you can read the full Discourse here.

    Why do I have the feeling that DeMille thinks there is a short path, and that he thinks it begins with destroying the scaffold?

  8. gst on May 31, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    I estimate that two of their faculty would be considered qualified to teach at a traditional university.

    That is perhaps a generous estimation. As I noted elsewhere, one of their faculty appears to be employed as a hotel doorman.

  9. JWL on May 31, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    I haven’t had a chance to confirm this, but my understanding was that George Wythe’s ‘mentoring’ of Thomas Jerfferson was Jefferson reading the law and clerking in Wythe’s law office, which before the formation of law schools was the usual method of training to enter the legal profession. Thanks to their intellectual abilities Wythe and Jefferson may have covered topics somewhat broader than with the average law clerk, but there was nothing innovative or unusual about their educational relationship. This can be seen from the fact that the formal relationship ended when Jefferson successfully passed the bar and began his legal career. Of course, the personal relationship continued for the rest of Wythe’s life — indeed wasn’t Wythe a signer of the Declaration of Independence?

  10. Ardis Parshall on May 31, 2008 at 1:40 pm

    Correction: What I pasted in before was from the Cambridge History of Reynolds’ Discourses. The actual quotation (part of it — it’s long) is:

    I would chiefly recommend that an implicit obedience to the rules of art, as established by the great masters, should be exacted from the YOUNG students. That those models, which have passed through the approbation of ages, should be considered by them as perfect and infallible guides as subjects for their imitation, not their criticism. … How much liberty may be taken to break through those rules, and, as the poet expresses it,

    “To snatch a grace beyond the reach of art,”

    may be an after consideration, when the pupils become masters themselves. It is then, when their genius has received its utmost improvement, that rules may possibly be dispensed with. But let us not destroy the scaffold until we have raised the building.

    And the discourse, rather than the commentary on it, may be read here

  11. Gina on May 31, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    As to how popular this is really, several years ago I attended a statewide California Homeschool Convention that had no LDS affiliation at all, and DeMille was a keynote speaker that had a large audience. I am not a homeschooler but attended the conference out of curiosity about the homeschooling community vibe and since I was/am considering homeschooling my kids. His talk absolutely made my skin crawl. It had the vibe both of MLM and the worst kind of LDS hard sell. Then he mentioned that one of his daughters names was Eliza and I thought, “Oh no.” Sure enough, he was LDS. I have been vaguely curious about his credentials ever since because he was so circumspect about his qualifications during his talk, even when asked directly about them, so thanks for this, Julie.

  12. JWL on May 31, 2008 at 1:58 pm

    After a quick check, Wythe actually held a chair at William and Mary as America’s first law professor as well. The bottom line is that Thoams Jefferson followed the customary educational path of his time, attending a leading college and then studying law with Virginia’s most distinguished legal scholar at that same college. The structure of Jefferson’s education was entirely typical for his time and place (although he and Wythe did develop a close intellectual relationship which would be an ideal outcome of any educational system). I find it hard to see in Jefferson and Wythe a precedent for the program described, indeed for any form of homeschooling per se.

  13. Krista on May 31, 2008 at 2:05 pm

    We have homeschooled for about a year now and live in Utah County. A LOT of people are doing TJEd around here. I had no idea that there was an LDS connection nor did I know the background information concerning this group. Thanks for the heads up and an interesting post.

  14. Julie M. Smith on May 31, 2008 at 2:14 pm

    Ardis, thank you, as always, for your excellent detective work.

    There’s one bit of context that I wish I had included in the original post regarding the seminar fees: there are probably a dozen homeschooling conferences in Texas this year and their fees are in the neighborhood of 40$. I hope that gives some perspective to what might otherwise not sound like a particularly large fee for a conference. Additionally, because TJE masks its religious perspective so well, it is very likely that people will pay for the conference only to find out later that the methodology is completely inappropriate for their family.

  15. Patricia Karamesines on May 31, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    Julie, thanks for providing information about TJE and GWC. Last year, GWC purchased land in Monticello, Utah, 22 mi. from where I live, and I was wondering what was the nature of the college’s aspirations and character.

  16. Jeremy on May 31, 2008 at 2:22 pm

    I have nothing to add, other than the fact that this stuff scares the hell out of me.

  17. queuno on May 31, 2008 at 2:36 pm

    So is TJE the K-12 version of the university diploma mill?

  18. Russell Arben Fox on May 31, 2008 at 2:42 pm

    It just so happens that not less than an hour ago I got off the phone with my mother, who informed me that my youngest brother and his wife just returned from a home schooling seminar in Utah, during which, to their great delight, they “literally sat at the feet of the great DeMille.” Oh joy.

  19. Julie M. Smith on May 31, 2008 at 2:45 pm

    queno, to my mind a “diploma mill” is an institution that offers a degree in exchange for nothing more than money. TJE is not that: there is an effort to educate, just not one that I find (in its best cases) the most effective and (in its worst cases) legal and moral.

  20. queuno on May 31, 2008 at 2:55 pm

    “diploma mill” may not have been the best choice of words, but I couldn’t think of an equivalent college-level analogy.

  21. Eliza on May 31, 2008 at 3:03 pm

    I\’m an LDS home schooler who has lived in CA, WA and MN. Of all those places, and going to chapels all over when I\’m on vacation, I\’ve never met an LDS home schooler who uses TJE. The ones I do know, both on and off line, are 1) Unschoolers 2) Charlotte Mason based 3) Charter school users, and their charters are based on K12 and 4) Waldorf followers. That\’s it. In my own Branch there is only one other home schooling family and they Unschool.

    After reading this I think I\’m a bit sad. The qualifications of DeMille do look to be lacking. Some of his statements and the structure of learning about TJE look horrible to me. The part that makes me sad is that this is yet another thing that will be chalked up to \”those wacky Mormons\”.

  22. Jonathan Green on May 31, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    Thanks for a fascinating and timely post, Julie.

  23. Julie M. Smith on May 31, 2008 at 3:21 pm

    Eliza, thank you for those data points.

  24. PST on May 31, 2008 at 3:28 pm

    I used to work at a private school in Lindon, UT that had gotten sucked into the TJE pedagogy. The school director had read the book, and she and the lower elementary school teacher started attending the seminars. They would come back and preach the gosple of TJE to the rest of us on staff. It honestly creeped me out. I have since left that school, but she is constantly recruiting. I throw up a little in my mouth ever time I come across her craigslist listings that exude the TJE vibe

  25. tona on May 31, 2008 at 4:02 pm

    Julie, have you got a copy of New World Order: Christ v. Satan? I’m working on a research project that involves cold-war right wing organizations with end-time conspiracy theories and this sounds, er, perfect. Or if anyone else has a copy…? Can’t find it on Amazon or WorldCat. Thanks, email to tjhangen at brandeis.edu.

    It’s too bad that the philosophy is so sketchy, because the name is so great – it evokes what I’d imagine the best homeschooling would be like – who wouldn’t want their kid to turn out like Jefferson ? (except for the slaveholding and philandering and pillaging of Native American burial mounds, of course).

  26. Julie M. Smith on May 31, 2008 at 4:07 pm

    No, tona, I don’t have the book; I got the title from here (page 9):

    http://gwc.edu/pdf/gwc_history.pdf

    but this one seems similar:

    http://www.amazon.com/New-World-Order-Choosing-Between/dp/B000KMMWBS/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1212264303&sr=8-1

    Your project sounds interesting; please drop me a line when you finished.

  27. Raymond Takashi Swenson on May 31, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Julie: Is there a home schooling curriculum that you would recommend?

    There are a lot of LDS and Christian families who are confronting the fact that judges in California believe that the State owns the minds of the children, not their parents, and that the State’s standards of morality are not subject to challenge by parents. The official California standard of morality is that homosexual sex is morally equivalent to sex in marriage, and that any statement in public school that heterosexual marriage is superior in any respect to a homosexual relationship is subject to sanctions against the speaker. Basically, the State has taken the position that tradtional sexual morality as taught in Christianity, Judaism and Islam is at odds with the morality that the State endorses, and that schools will teach children the official morality, period.

    The only way to protect their young children from this indoctrination is to either leave the state (and many are in fact doing that) or home schooling. So what guidance can you offer parents who are willing to invest the time and resources into home schooling but need some help so they are not making it up as they go along?

  28. Joseph D. Walch on May 31, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    Thanks for shedding light on this. There are so many wacky conspiracy theories and extreme ideological fetishes out there that I think it’s good to expose some disinfecting light on the topic.

    Hopefully people look a little bit more critically at the education they’re feeding their children.

  29. Joseph D. Walch on May 31, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    I think there are plenty of really good Catholic, charter, or other private school alternatives (if somebody is willing to pony up some more cash and not try to do on-the-cheap homeschooling).

  30. Julie M. Smith on May 31, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    Raymond, I find your thoughts about CA somewhat alarmist, although this isn’t the place to get into that. In any case, I previously posted on homeschooling kindergarten here:

    http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=4105

    Beyond that, I recommend the book The Well-Trained Mind. However, there are many other good approaches to homeschooling and good curricula to use, so some googling is definitely in order (start with Sonlight, Charlotte Mason, unit studies, Montessori, Horizons, and the Rainbow Resource catalog and work from there). Readers are also welcome to contact me (info on the sidebar); I’ve walked many LDS through the decision to–and the nuts and bolts of–homeschool and I’m happy to help.

  31. Julie M. Smith on May 31, 2008 at 4:43 pm

    Joseph, I’m offended: I’m a big fan of on-the-cheap homeschooling. :)

  32. Kaimi Wenger on May 31, 2008 at 5:03 pm

    Tona,

    Have you looked at the classic _An Enemy Hath Done This_?

  33. Ray on May 31, 2008 at 5:19 pm

    touche, Kaimi.

  34. Amira on May 31, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    The number one question I am asked about homeschooling is not about socialization or anything like that, but what program I use or how I know I’m teaching my kids what they need to learn. It seems to me that this sort of thing spreads easily amongst homeschoolers because new (and some not-so-new) homeschooling parents are, in my mind at least, often very insecure about their children’s education. It’s very easy to get sucked into TJE (or any other program) when you’re just starting with homeschooling and you’re desperate for advice. I’ve seen a number of families start off down the wrong path because someone recommends their pet program to everyone. And TJE happens to be that pet right now for lots of homeschoolers who’ve never checked into it.

  35. Minda on May 31, 2008 at 6:29 pm

    Ive never heard of this program. I\’m LDS (some call us Mormons) and have never heard of this. I\’m against the Salt Lake area school system having attended the schools as well as having worked in one—I know what the real story is. When I was a student, my mother and her friends were having the same discussions me and my friends had regarding the issues. In 55 yrs NOTHING has changed in the sense of progress. The problem has only become bigger and the complaints louder but the mentality is change scares “us.” Nothing will change until parents, teachers and administrators open their minds and stop walking the same path expecting change.

  36. ESO on May 31, 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Great info, Julie. I think it imperative that homeschoolers act for reform or standards within their own community because if the rest of us do it, we just sound like haters.

  37. Huston on May 31, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    Julie, wow! Thanks for this blistering post and your follow-up comments. I’ve also read TJE, and I’m also a huge fan of The Well-Trained Mind. I don’t homeschool my kids, but I do a lot of academic stuff at home with the kids based on WTM in our “spare” time. I have all the respct in the world for good homeschoolers.

    Sadly, I’ve met more than a few homeschool families who really don’t do it right–one girl even told me her favorite thing about homeschooling was, “We don’t ever have to do anything!” Also, I’ve met some parents through my schools who can’t/don’t stop their kids from being chronically truant, and end up going through the motions of withdrawing them and then saying that they’re going to do homeschool, just to get the dean’s office off their back. Perhaps these crowds are TJE’s target demographic? If not, there’s clearly an untapped pool of demand out there! ; )

  38. maria on May 31, 2008 at 10:24 pm

    Julie,
    Thank you for this post. FYI, there is a private school in Menan, Idaho, called Jefferson Montessori, which uses a Montessori curriculum for grades preK-6 and then uses TJE for the remaining grades up to grade 12. When I first learned of TJE I did a tremendous amount of research on GWC and Oliver DeMille. I found most of what you reported. I am relieved to find others who are appalled and disgusted with this “educational program”. I wonder if you were also aware that there is a remarkable provision in their “Doctorate” degree. If you are an individual who has made a considerable sum of money running a business, you can chalk up your financial success to earned credit. Roughly translated, by paying for the 50K degree, you can eliminate some required classes and reading by virtue of “life experience” which qualifies you for advanced status within the program. Also, I find it nauseatingly ridiculous for GWC and TJE to call all other educational programs “conveyor belts” and yet they themselves award Bachelors, Masters and Doctorate degrees. If the current system of college success is so wrong, why use the same titles as proof of completion? Why not invent new names as well… the Jefferson degree, the Whythe degree, etc? I love how accomplished Bro. DeMille is on his website, many degrees to his resume… several awarded from his own university. How convenient. Lastly, were you aware that when GWC was first created, it was actually an extension of Coral Ridge Baptist University and shared the same name? More food for thought. (P.S. I love The Well-Trained Mind. I will be a rookie homeschooler this year and it is the framework for our course of study)

  39. Sara R on May 31, 2008 at 11:38 pm

    Thanks for this review, Julie. I had seen many of these criticisms before, but they were hard to find online. I hope this review will be easily found on the internet for others looking for info about TJE.

    Another thing that bothered me about the original book [i]A Thomas Jefferson Education[/i] was his lack of attribution to outside ideas. The book makes it sound like he invented the idea of a modern-day classical education, when in reality there are many before him along that road. Either he genuinely thought he was a pioneer here, indicating a lack of scholarship, or he did “borrow” others’ ideas but without giving them credit, which is plagiarism.

  40. mlu on June 1, 2008 at 12:24 am

    Thanks, Julie. This is interesting and useful, if a little sad.

    Unfortunately, if you did a similar critical reading of most of the public school programs being offered, you wouldn’t find them much better. If you scanned the literature anthology (Harcourt Brace) used in the public school where I am, you would recognize lots of the names and with a cursory glance through the contents you might feel it was quality. But if you actually read the snippets and paid attention to the “questions for discussion” and “suggested teaching activities,” you might send your darling to some homeschooler to read Louis L’Amour.

    While the castigation of fools is a worthy sport and often entertaining, what would be more useful is calling attention to quality materials, along with a bit of teaching to explain why they are quality. If I wasn’t late on finishing some curriculum work for my day job, I would start. But right now my list wouldn’t be long. As it is, I’m trying to create my own, re-reading the canon of American lit looking for things that will work for the kids I teach.

    The trouble we are having right now is that the adults, including many teachers, at least in English, are not themselves well educated, so expecting them to select good materials is a little quixotic.

  41. mmiles on June 1, 2008 at 12:46 am

    Great post Julie.

    Tona–
    I have a booklet you would probably be interested in. I won’t part with it, but will photocopy it an mail it to you. It is called, “Communist Inflitration in the Churches. by Dr. W.O.H. Garman corrected–revised 3rd edition A Christian Crusade Publication. Tulsa, Oklahoma. It was 50 cents in its day. The first page starts with The Satanic Gospel of Communism.
    I’m telling ya’ , this book is a treasure!

  42. Jim on June 1, 2008 at 1:39 am

    seriously, this attack is akin to anti mormon literature to which the leaders respond – ask us, come and learn from us what we teach and how we teach, experience for yourself. In the cold war and person who really wanted to know the truth about the americans would never be well served to ask a commie (the comment replies say no personal attacks, which this is not, but what of the myriad of personal attacks against DeMille?)

  43. dangermom on June 1, 2008 at 1:52 am

    Julie, thanks very much for this explanation. I’ve read the TJed book but never managed to wrap my brain around it or understand why it was so popular with LDS homeschoolers. I’m pretty hard-core classical myself, and was already a WTM fan before I got hold of a copy of the DeMille book. It just seemed fuzzy to me–there wasn’t a lot to grab hold of, just a lot of “this is a wonderful method.” I figured I just didn’t get it or something.

  44. mlu on June 1, 2008 at 2:24 am

    Jim, are you familiar with the materials and found them to be good?

  45. Naismith on June 1, 2008 at 8:25 am

    “The trouble we are having right now is that the adults, including many teachers, at least in English, are not themselves well educated, so expecting them to select good materials is a little quixotic.”

    FWIW, that has not been my experience. There are so many English grad students who can’t find work in academe (same in history, actually) that all my children’s high school english teachers have had at least a master’s degree, one had a doctorate (although he left after just a few years to chair the department at a community college).

    And the high school reading assignments are pretty much dictated by the AP exams, so we’ve never read Louis L’Amour. The teachers have very little ability to “select” at that level. They are teaching to the test, which is not a bad thing if the test is a good test.

    I think our local curriculum is not so strong in grammar as I would like at the high school level, but since I am good at that, and their many essays provide an opportunity for teaching, my children get a balanced education by having the strong literature program at school. (Middle school was very good at laying a foundation in grammar; they even did sentence diagramming.)

    I did homeschool high school for a semester when we were on sabbatical overseas, and it forced me to humbly appreciate my own failings in literature analysis.

    I encouraged my girls to read STARGIRL by Jerry Spinelli, which is a lovely book about being wonderfully different in a high school setting. But in the sequel, she moves and is homeschooled for her next year of school. Her interpersonal skills are honed by this experience; anyone who has fears of lack of socialization should check that out. But that is all she learns. There is no math or literature or history or foreign language in her curriculum.

  46. Braveheart on June 1, 2008 at 9:16 am

    Thanks so much for this post! All of the LDS homeschoolers in our area do TJEd. If you don:t do TJEd you can’t really fit into the homeschool scene here very well. You were able to succintly hit upon some of the big issues in a short article. There are more problems that you haven’t covered, but a nice summary.

    Parents are encouraged to “trust the process”. In other words, don’t listen to that still small voice telling you there is something wrong! So, parents try not to worry when Johnny hit high school and still doesn’t feel inspired to study, because he’s still in the “love of learning” stage, and maybe he really just needs to go back to the “core stage” and start all over. But, just “trust the process” and before you know it he’ll be reading Euclid because he sees you reading Euclid.

    I cringe whenever I get in to a TJEd group and start hearing the psuedoknowledge of DeMille being regurgitated. It makes us as homeschoolers seem like backwoods hillbillys who went and got themselves a lil’ edukasion, and now we know it all. And guess what? For a humungous fee we can teach you what we know! Lucky you!

    Sorry for the sarcasm, but TJEd has been driving me crazy for a couple of years now, and it\’s so good to hear someone LDS actually stand up and speak some common sense. Around here that might get you excommunicated;)

  47. Silus Grok on June 1, 2008 at 10:24 am

    An interesting post… and aside from the profusion of initialisms, an absolute delight.

    @Jim (42): What a load of cod swallop…

    “…this attack is akin to anti mormon literature to which the leaders respond – ask us, come and learn from us what we teach and how we teach, experience for yourself.”

    At some rudimentary level, first impressions are generally made through secondary experience… people have neither the time nor the inclination to research all things that cross their paths. If a person’s interest is piqued beyond the first impression, then the Brethren’s admonition to seek after first-hand knowledge is not only a propos, but dead-on. Of course, given the broad range of topics available to us at any given juncture, we necessarily take most first impressions at their face value and move on. We hope that such secondary experiences are genuine… but we rarely take the time to find out. As a secondary experience, Julie’s seemingly thorough treatment of the subject is first-rate. If you have something to add besides half-baked analogies, then do so… otherwise you’re only confirming what I’m inferring from Julie’s post.

    “…but what of the myriad of personal attacks against DeMille?”

    Being critical of a person is not the same as making a personal attack. I’ve read nothing here of his personal hygiene, his appearance, his walking style, or his intent to mislead. In fact, Julie went out of her way to note that “DeMille also was awarded a degree from what he only later found out was a ‘diploma mill’; he destroyed the degree”. Which was a kindness I don’t commonly associate with personal attacks.

  48. Braveheart on June 1, 2008 at 11:47 am

    Re the diploma mill problem-

    The Coral Ridge Baptist University attended by DeMille was another one of those ‘take offs’ that uses a famous name and nearby location to give credence to their program, just like the LaSalle University that DeMille used. The name ‘Coral Ridge’ is familiar to people because of Dr. James Kennedy his tv ministry. This gives people a sense of name recognition, often used by diploma mills.

    The DeMille CRBU is now a very small k-12 school, associated with a baptist church. You can google Coral Ridge Baptist School in Lakewood Florida. It is not associated with the famous Coral Ridge or with Dr. James Kennedy.

  49. Julie M. Smith on June 1, 2008 at 1:54 pm

    mlu, you raise a valid point and I hope that posts such as my old one about homeschooling kindergarten and my suggestion to use The Well-Trained Mind (and other sources that I have mentioned) do provide positive information. (I had already been thinking this morning about another post about family reading, so look for that soon as well.) I felt that this post was necessary because my own Internet searching revealed that there was no one good source for info about TJE (except, of course, from its advocates) on the Internet and I wanted the info accessible to those hearing about it for the first time. From what I have seen (which I want to emphasize may not be representative) it is impossible to understand TJE until you have invested a good chunk of time and/or money and I don’t think that is fair–you should know upfront about its origin and philosophy before you invest your resources.

    Jim, I am not entirely sure that I understand your comment. If it was your intention to say that I had made a personal attack on DeMille, I would point out that every single fact about his background in my post comes from the authoritative history of GWC (footnote: it only says that LaSalle closed under a cloud; I got more info on the circumstances of its closure from another source).

  50. Researcher on June 1, 2008 at 2:23 pm

    I’ve been watching this discussion but didn’t want to jump in at any point. I’ve even refrained from making personal comments about anyone who would associate themselves professionally with a certain prolific Mormon author (C- S-).

    I will mention however, that there’s a book that covers the “higher” education system and the problem of diploma mills. It’s called “Bears Guide To Earning Degrees By Distance Learning” and is a fairly quick and easy read. The last version I see was published in 2006 and like previous versions it probably has comprehensive lists of domestic and international diploma mills.

    Thanks for the post, Julie; it’s in the grand tradition of investigative reporting that helps protect the virtue of our civic institutions, of which the right to education is definitely one.

    PS #45 We like Spinelli too. He’s a local author and is heavily read in the middle schools here. The book titles and cover blurbs have given me pause sometimes (“Loser,” “Maniac Magee,” even “Stargirl”) but have been worthwhile reads.

  51. EmWJ on June 1, 2008 at 2:26 pm

    Found in my perusing:

    http://preachmygospel.wordpress.com/

    and this leads you to

    http://centerformoralliberalism.wordpress.com/

    These are the blogs of one of the instructors at George Wythe. FYI

  52. TMD on June 1, 2008 at 3:11 pm

    This is appalling. I’m not a fan of homeschooling, and I’m pretty sure it has deleterious effects on most kids who are ‘homeschooled’, but that this is being treated as somehow acceptable really cries out for state intervention. At very least, these curricula should be vetted by education departments, and the state should be actively checking to make sure kids are actually learning things (i.e., at least the things the state mandates they learn by graduation) when being homeschooled. (Tests are the most efficient way, but not the only.) And if they’re not, they should be mandated back into accredited schools.

  53. Julie M. Smith on June 1, 2008 at 3:20 pm

    TMD, unlike most homeschoolers, I am not completely opposed to regulation (although I would structure it differently than what you suggest).

  54. dangermom on June 1, 2008 at 4:38 pm

    Regulation is a problem for me because I think the odds are that any regulation the state and educational bureaucracy would come up with would be useless and damaging instead of helpful. (I live in California, which may possibly have something to do with this cynicism, but I wouldn’t trust any other state to do it either.) I wouldn’t object to well-designed regulation that would work–I just doubt very much that my state could come up with it. I’ve been thinking lately that perhaps experienced homeschoolers should be coming up with regulation design proposals to offer when state legislators start making noises about regulating homeschoolers\–at least, I expect it to be part of California discourse over the next several week as the homeschooling case is re-heard.

    Idaho’s homeschooling association did something interesting along these lines: http://www.iche-idaho.org/issues/05/ –it’s possible that my state is too large to do something like this effectively, but I’d be interested in such an investigative board.

    I simply don’t think that legislators and administrators who work in the public schools are really equipped to design good regulation. They don’t have the experience or knowledge of how homeschooling works, and they’re far more likely to hurt than help.

  55. Julie M. Smith on June 1, 2008 at 7:08 pm

    dangermom, I agree with you on all counts. Much as professionals have sometimes banded together to set standards so that quacks and incompetents won’t ruin the name of the profession, it may be wise at this point for homeschool groups to design legislation.

  56. Julie M. Smith on June 1, 2008 at 7:13 pm

    FYI: I sent a link to this post to two TJE supporters. They responded in private emails and, with their permission, I am going to post those emails as separate comments under the names “TJE Supporter #1″ and “TJE Supporter #2.” (I tell you all this so that those of you inclined to check IPs don’t think that I am arguing with myself here.)

  57. TJE Supporter #1 on June 1, 2008 at 7:17 pm

    >What do these speakers, seminars, and products look like? You can’t go very long on a >homechooling email list without seeing an announcement for the “Face to Face with Greatness” >seminar, which costs $350.

    You quote the price for two people to attend, not one.

    >I have not attended one, but they have been described to me as having the feel of a MLM scheme: >you attend a free seminar in someone’s home where no “nuts and bolts” are given but you are >promised great insight if you attend the expensive conference locally, where you are promised >greater insight if you attend another seminar at GWC . . .

    Maybe you should come and attend this weekend and see for yourself. That would give you some personal experience to draw from. You can even come for half price, if that helps you out ($92.50).
    One theme that continues to resurface in the discussion of the F2F seminars, is this concern that TJEd is a selling scheme. I can tell you that such is not the case with my own sponsorship of the seminars. There is no one at GWC that teaches us how to go about accomplishing the task. We are given mentors who will advise us when we ask for more help, but they offer no selling schemes. There may be some informal brainstorming on how to reach a broader community, but it is mainly emotional support. Each host approaches the preparation a little differently, with no standardized approach to the job.

    I’ve held eight TJEd Info Nights, free of cost to the attendees, but not free for me ($60 of gas last night alone, my second trip to Austin). They have all been great discussions. At most meetings I spent about two and a half hours discussing the TJEd philosophy and answering questions. Then I allotted about two minutes at the end of the night to discuss the F2F seminar. You imply that I deliberately withheld “nuts and bolts” information. This is simply untrue. I devoted the second hour to questions so that I could address individual concerns. There simply isn’t ample time in one hour to do more than make a case for why we need the classics, and get into some of the principles.

    Think about how you go about teaching someone else the basics of gospel principles. Clearly some missionaries are poor messengers. Having served a mission in Brazil, I’ve seen this first hand. There has to be an effective way to spread the word. Some people skills and oral presentation skills are necessary to do it well. But most important in that setting is the spirit with which we deliver the message. Coming back to TJEd, my presentation and delivery may be lacking. But the principles espoused by TJEd are simple, and they resonate with my sense of truth and common sense.

    >Despite the fact that TJE claims no denominational affiliation, those interested in it eventually >find out that is is an almost completely LDS enterprise.

    There is an entire TJEd community online devoted exclusively to the evangelical Christian orientation of TJEd. Incidentally, they don’t allow LDS people to join. I am also a member of a large TJEd community list devoted to the secular application of TJEd. I think the prevalence of LDS adherents is more likely the product of its founder having grown up in Utah, not some special LDS element built in to the principles.

    >The basic idea behind TJE is rooted in the fact that Thomas Jefferson was mentored by George >Wythe and that great leaders are mentored, not run through the “conveyor belt” of a public >school (or a similarly-structured homeschool experience). However, Thomas Jefferson was an >adult with a college degree when he was mentored by Wythe.

    I don’t see how this changes the value of the principles to homeschoolers and educators. Are you suggesting that good education is one thing for children and another for adults?

    >So the actual “Thomas Jefferson Education” involved (1) a classical education, (2) a standard >college degree, and (3) mentoring as a youngish adult.

    Nowhere does DeMille or GWC assert that their model duplicates its namesake’s education. If you recall the history document, DeMille was longing for an education in the classics, guided by great mentors. Thomas Jefferson got one. Most of Jefferson’s studies were at private schools. You won’t hear DeMille condemn private, charter, or public schools. He simply rejects the conveyor belt attitudes, and the government forms that perpetuate them in our system today. One of his children is in public school. He serves on the advisory board of a charter school in Cedar City. Some of the best TJEd adherents have their children in private and charter schools.

    >Further, TJE is almost completely at odds with what Thomas Jefferson himself outlined as a >proper education, which you can read about here, starting on page 271.

    Here are similar passages from his writings:

    “A bill for the more general diffusion of learning… proposed to divide every county into wards of five or six miles square;… to establish in each ward a free school for reading, writing and common arithmetic; to provide for the annual selection of the best subjects from these schools, who might receive at the public expense a higher degree of education at a district school; and from these district schools to select a certain number of the most promising subjects, to be completed at an University where all the useful sciences should be taught. Worth and genius would thus have been sought out from every condition of life, and completely prepared by education for defeating the competition of wealth and birth for public trusts.” –Thomas Jefferson to John Adams, 1813. ME 13:399

    “In the [elementary schools] will be taught reading, writing, common arithmetic, and general notions of geography. In the [district colleges], ancient and modern languages, geography fully, a higher degree of numerical arithmetic, mensuration, and the elementary principles of navigation. In the [university], all the useful sciences in their highest degree.” –Thomas Jefferson to M. Correa de Serra, 1817. ME 15:155

    The first passage cited above is underpinned by Jefferson’s belief in natural aristocracy. Keep in mind that he was an aristocrat. But he wanted to eliminate the artificial aristocracy that was for centuries determined only by birth and wealth. He realized that for the American people to be capable of preserving the republic and governing themselves, they’d need to educate everyone in the basics at least. Note how he discusses the “selection of the best subjects” from each level of the public, tax-supported schools to move on and receive higher education opportunities. Clearly he means for the majority of the masses to receive the minimum (which is described in the second passage); then based on merit, the natural leaders and philosophers would be gleaned from the masses, and mentored for public service. Not all of the masses would be able to benefit from the full extent of educational resources.

    I like this idea of his, which promotes freedom of choice in selecting college electives:
    “We shall, on the contrary, allow them uncontrolled choice in the
    lectures they shall choose to attend, and require elementary qualification only, and sufficient age.” –ThomasJefferson to George Ticknor, 1823. ME 15:455

    >the whole emphasis in studying the ‘classics’ in TJEd is on the self – how do I feel about this? >What does it mean to me? There is no objectivity, no attempt to get inside the structure or >themes of the book except on the most superficial level.

    Isn’t the point of education, as Neal A. Maxwell puts it (paraphrasing here): “It’s not about getting through a book, but about getting the book through you.”? The structures and themes are meaningless without the personal application. Remember Nephi, “ we likened the scriptures unto ourselves?” That is what we are doing in pondering the place of classics in our own lives. I annotated portions of Kirk’s “Roots of American Order” for a GWC political science course this spring. The whole point of the exercise is to make connections between the principles laid out in the book, and other sources that give them context. How is that superficial? I think it represents rather the opposite.

    >For Homer, for example, the study questions consist of nothing but a list of terms and the >question ‘How do these fit into your worldview’-the implied answer being, ‘They don’t.’ Case >closed.

    This is a glaring misrepresentation of TJEd. The whole point of TJEd is to let your education inform and broaden your leadership abilities, in whatever niche you end up filling in the greater society. It is common knowledge that the best leaders are those who are conversant in a broad spectrum of world views. The goal of TJEd is exactly the opposite of what’s asserted here.

    >Here is a statement from DeMille himself that is suggestive of how he interacts with the >classics… I would note that some of the auxiliary materials coming out of the TJE movement, >such as this book, have been well received by the (non-LDS) homeschooling community and, >from what I have heard, offer good insights into incorporating the classics into homeschooling.

    So it is the man, not his principles that we are taking issue with here?

    >Credentials are downplayed strongly in the TJE world (although GWC is currently seeking >accreditation). Here is a link to the faculty page of TJE; I estimate that two of their faculty >would be considered qualified to teach at a traditional university.

    While we’re on the subject of accreditation, there is an irony in this discussion among homeschoolers. Do we really want to enthrone accreditation as the best way to get a great education? If so, then what makes us think we are qualified to help our own children acquire this
    priceless gift? Do we agree with California’s court ruling that all parents who homeschool need to be accredited? You might say that college is different though, from elementary and secondary education. I’d have to disagree. There are principles that underlay any great education, and they don’t change from age to age.

    >He does go on to say that he thinks this set-up would be unlikely in a mentoring situation. But >when push comes to shove, DeMille doesn’t believe in shoving. What DeMille is advocating–>even in Texas, which is known for its extremely lax homeschooling laws–is illegal.

    I refer you to the Master teacher, Jesus. In his teaching, not once will you see him advocate any compulsory lessons. His example of absolutely respecting the agency of others is unparalleled. The only way we as parents will even have a chance at influencing our children’s education is by way of the principles in D&C 121. It requires Persuasion, Long Suffering, Gentleness, Meekness, Love Unfeigned, Pure Knowledge, without Hypocrisy. One of the authors that informed DeMille’s thinking on respecting agency is Neil Flinders. He is an LDS scholar, who authored “Teach the Children”, wherein he advocates an agency-based approach to education. This is a far, far cry from promoting the illegal, as you opine.

    >It is also, especially for LDS parents, immoral: we have an obligation to teach our children a basic >core of knowledge that will allow them to do things such as serve missions, serve the church, >earn a living, interact in the community, and enrich their minds, not to mention comply with >prophetic counsel to get all of the education that they can.

    I think you’ve made a huge jump here, describing DeMille’s unwillingness to “shove” as a fatal flaw that intrinsically impedes the acquisition of core knowledge for children. I don’t disagree with the need for core knowledge. All of the obligations you mention are on my own list of core knowledge and values. The key difference I see here, is that you are functioning from a paradigm that doesn’t trust that this core foundation can be acquired without some form of compulsion. They can and will be inspired to assume our values as we show them an example of building our homes and lives within that context every day.

    >To conclude, there are significant numbers of people planning the entirety of their children’s >educations around TJE and at least one charter school using these principles (see here)…

    TJEd is not a curriculum. It’s a set of principles that inform the way you present learning materials in your home or school. It’s the broad scope of the principles that allows families and educators the flexibility to fill in the nuts and bolts for themselves. Imperative to the success of any TJEd home is the vision of the parents, acquired by consultation with God. If we are listening to earthly voices to define our homes, we are inevitably misguided. God knows what He wants your family to be doing. He knows what your mission is. He knows what your children’s missions are. Do you?

    >I encourage you to avoid TJE while at the same time I acknowledge that some of its >practitioners are well-intentioned people providing their children with quality educations and >that some of its auxiliary materials are useful.

    Thank you for sharing your opinions. I hope that I haven’t offended you in my response. Please forgive me if I come across as condescending or disrespectful in any way. I am open to hearing solidly grounded, opposing arguments. It is always useful to question one’s educational perceptions and framework. Feel free to continue the dialogue if you’d like to. I will likely not be able to respond effectively until after the first seminar is over, but I am happy to pursue the ideas further if you’d like.

  58. TJE Supporter #2 on June 1, 2008 at 7:19 pm

    Hi Julie,

    I am [TJE Supporter #1's] husband. I would like to reply to some of your concerns. I just would like to let you know that I understand your concerns about Thomas Jefferson Education and I wish you would have written us first to see if we could resolve some of them. Your first concern seems to be with the history of Oliver DeMille and George Wythe College . You mention at the end of your email, that TJEd has a dubious history. This seems to be rooted in DeMille’s meandering educational history, a few of his early admitted mistakes, your feeling that Thomas Jefferson Education is veiled LDS “thought”, and your feeling that Thomas Jefferson Education is a Multi-Level-Marketing scheme. I would like to address each of these individually.

    1. I do agree with you that DeMille’s education was very meandering and a lot of it was not accredited. Does all education have to be accredited? A real education can come from accredited and non-accredited sources. DeMille would probably say that the best education he got was at the feet of Skousen and Donald Sills, at Coral Ridge Baptist. Do I as a parent have to be accredited in order to teach my own children? I feel that when it comes to my children, I may not be accredited as a teacher, but I feel that I know how to best teach my children morally, spiritually, and also academically

    2. All people make mistakes. We should at least be willing to give him a few mulligans. I do not see any of his far right-wing ideas that he recanted in the Thomas Jefferson book or anything that I have heard from him.

    3. All writing and speech from the beginning of time is colored by the life, experiences, ideals, and worldview of the person saying and writing it. That being said, I don’t understand how we can leap from DeMille being LDS to Thomas Jefferson Education as being “vieled” LDS thought. Of course you can see some of DeMille’s worldview from the book, but does that mean that someone who is not LDS should view Thomas Jefferson Education with suspicion because he is LDS? I would hope that people would be above this. The principles of Thomas Jefferson Education are not a religious philosophy. We as a Thomas Jefferson community are open to all worldviews and all religions. We have Catholic, Protestant, Evangelical, LDS, and even Ba’hai Thomas Jefferson Education homeschoolers. Applying the principles of TJEd does not change based on the religion a person is. I would hope that the fact that TJEd started in Utah would not be a deterrent. I also hope that the fact that a lot of current administators of GWC are LDS doesn’t mean that it will continue to be so. We are trying to build bridges with people of all religions.

    4. I am so sorry that you had a bad experience at the TJEd Info NIght. I do not see how Thomas Jefferson Education can be seen as a Multi-Level-Marketing scheme. The costs of the seminars are a little more than others (more like $150 per person than the $350 that you mentioned), but we, as hosts, see no financial benefit from this endeavor. In fact, I can talk to you later about the exact costs, etc if you are interested. We are just trying to be of service and mentor those in this area.

    Your next sets of concerns seem to be based of your concerns for the principles of TJEd. The major concerns seem to be the subjective classification of “classics”, the opposition to professors, and largely your feeling that TJEd does not account for our obligation as parents to teach our children basic core knowledge. I will address these below:

    1. A classic is an original work by a “great” in the field. It is my feeling that some classics in some fields are very objective. For example, if you want to study physics, you would turn to Newton and Einstein. If you want to study mathematics, you would turn to such greats as Euclid , Gauss, Liebniz, Euler, and also Newton . In history, you would definitely turn to Gibbons Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire as one of the first on your list. But, for example, what would be a “classic” in literature. I feel that there would be a lot of concensus on a few books but the rest would be very subjective. The George Wythe “Classics” list is just an example and a guide. It does not and should not be followed religiously.

    2. The opposition to professors in TJEd is not an affront to accredited academia. Professors can be mentors too and because of their great knowledge they can be some of the best. TJEd teaches against the “professor” mentality. We are not just trying to cram information down our children’s throats but we are working with them, beside them, and guiding them and inspiring them in their education

    3. On the note of parent’s education obligation, I will agree that there are some “unschooling” veins within TJEd. But, my personal philosophy and application of the TJEd principles is the opposite of what you suggest. I WHOLEHEARTEDLY agree with you that we are parents have an obligation given to us BY GOD to teach our children base core MORAL, SPIRITUAL, and ACADEMIC knowledge. Nothing in the TJEd Book says anything against this principle. But the key is how we should do it. Should we use FORCE or should we try to guide, inspire, and lead by example? I think that we should always try the latter options first. The key to Thomas Jefferson Education is to lead by example by showing your children that education is important and finding and teaching base core educational principles in areas of learning that your children love. Of course, it is very easy to say this on paper than to put it in practice but it is very important to foster a love of learning and use force as minimally as possible.

    I hope that this may have answered some of your concerns or at least help you to understand where we are coming from. As a conclusion, I would just like to state that a Thomas Jefferson Education is not something that is set up in opposition to professional, skills-focused, and accredited education. I feel that they work best when they go hand in hand. As you said, Thomas Jefferson’s education did not begin or end with the mentoring by George Wythe. My view is that our children can be taught to be leaders by learning how to think through fostering a love of learning in as many areas or avenues of learning possible.

    Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns. Have a great night.

  59. Ardis Parshall on June 1, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    That’s Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I know how picky it sounds to fault that, but it seems symptomatic of everything I’ve read about DeMille in the last 24 hours (all of the links in Julie’s post, including that official — but dreadfully written — history). It is symptomatic, because the TJE program seems to talk ABOUT the classics a great deal, without ever quite getting TO the classics, much less learning FROM the classics. Nobody who has ever read Gibbons’ work and remembers the content would mistake the title.

    I have no dog in the fight because I have no children to educate. I *have* had to educate myself, though, with the help of the classics. (I liked Adler’s Paideia program and always thought that if I had had children I would have homeschooled them with something like that, so I’m not entirely unfamiliar with the issues.) Nothing I’ve read on the pages Julie linked to persuades me that TJE proponents have taken advantage of the education they claim to provide. Sorry.

  60. djinn on June 1, 2008 at 7:53 pm

    Dear various TJEd supporters: I’m sure you’re all very well meaning. But, and I say this understanding that you are working very hard to do the best possible for your kids **ARE YOU OUT OF YOUR MINDS?” **

    The first warning sign should be “Thomas Jefferson” himself. Not a big fan of Christianity. The fact that you don’t pick up on this, is proof that you, yourself, are not particularly well-versed in history. TJ was well-versed in history, and he came to starkly different conclusions than your starting point. Plus, he wasn’t, face it, a very nice man. Hmmmm?

    Second point. No, you don’t teach physics reading Newton or Einstein. Their works were written for a much different purpose, and at much different times. You teach physics by, uh, you know, teaching kids basic math, geometry, calculus, and then,,,,,, using those new-fangled things, physics textbooks.

    Gibbons, which I have read, at least in part, is again, hardly an introductory text on the Roman Empire. Though vividly written, I cannot imagine someone being forced to read it and getting anything at all out if it. Just ’cause these books have impressive authors and impressive names that appear in impressive lists of vague, if somewhat impressive stuff, doesn’t make them appropriate pedagogical materials.

    Besides, I am the freak kid who gave herself a classical education. Trust me. You don’t want me for your daughter.

  61. Julie M. Smith on June 1, 2008 at 7:58 pm

    TJE Supporter #1, thank you for your comment and for allowing me to make it public. Here’s my response to you:

    “Maybe you should come and attend this weekend and see for yourself. ”

    QED

    “I think the prevalence of LDS adherents is more likely the product of its founder having grown up in Utah, not some special LDS element built in to the principles.”

    I think that because the Church permeates our lives, it is difficult to see the ways in which LDS beliefs are found in TJE and why, therefore, it is offensive to non-LDS to have the strong LDS ties of TJE hidden from them. I’m still working on permission to post something on this that a nonLDS woman wrote, so stay tuned for more on this, but for the time being, let me share with you some things that a Catholic homeschooler identified in TJE that were not appropriate for his family:

    * emphasis on self-reliance coupled with a seemingly contradictory top-down structure with “expert” advice on the minutiae of TJEd users’ lifestyles
    * millenarianism – coming crisis but optimism that a small group of “right-thinking” leaders will save the day
    * patriotism – LDS belief in America’s distinctive role in salvation history (cf. Book of Mormon)
    * continued revelation – TJEd program continues to evolve and develop, keeping users hooked into seminars to get the newest ideas
    * de-emphasis on classical heritage – LDS rejection, shared by some Protestants, of broader church history (“apostasy” of historical churches); HOW ideology

    ————————

    It isn’t really the point whether you or I agree with his assessment of LDS thought or its application in TJE; the point is that he shouldn’t have to pony up resources to delve deep into learning about TJE without a heads up as to the beliefs of its founders (I note that great care is taken in TJE materials to say that DeMille started at a “prestigious university” and not name BYU.) any more than you or I would appreciate ordering a science kit from a company that neglected to mention its geocentric leanings. The beliefs need to be put on the table up front.

    “Are you suggesting that good education is one thing for children and another for adults?”

    Absolutely. TJ had a firm grounding in basic knowledge of subjects such as history, grammar, languages, math, etc., before he was mentored. Similarly, I believe that being mentored through a study of classic books is a great idea for people who are _already_ familiar with the basics of the standard subjects. I believe that a study of the classics is far less effective when the student cannot situate the text in its historical, social, etc., contexts.

    “Nowhere does DeMille or GWC assert that their model duplicates its namesake’s education.”

    If it isn’t TJ’s education, and it isn’t what TJ suggested would constitute a good education, then why does it carry his name?

    “I like this idea of his, which promotes freedom of choice in selecting college electives:”

    There is a world of difference between allowing a college student to choose her electives and allowing a seven-year-old to decide whether to study spelling. (Which, incidentally, is exactly what your TJ quote says: that the person choosing what to study must have “elementary qualification” and “sufficient age.”)

    “The structures and themes are meaningless without the personal application.”

    And the personal application is meaningless without understanding the structures and the themes.

    “So it is the man, not his principles that we are taking issue with here?”

    My post concerns (1) the man’s qualifications and (2) the principles of TJE. Since my goal was to comment on how TJE views the classics, a statement from DeMille that references “the classics” was more than appropriate.

    “While we’re on the subject of accreditation, there is an irony in this discussion among homeschoolers.”

    There is a vast difference between “credentials” in the world of K12 education (where a Nobel-prize winning PhD is not considered qualified to teach high school science because she doesn’t have a teaching credential) and TJE, where we are being sold on the benefits of a certain type of education by someone whose own education appears (on paper, at least) to be sorely lacking. I have qualms about taking education advice from someone whose own education is questionable.

    “I refer you to the Master teacher, Jesus. In his teaching, not once will you see him advocate any compulsory lessons.”

    The analogy doesn’t work for me: while anyone can choose whether to listen to the missionaries, parents have an affirmative duty to teach their children. And while laws vary from state to state (and most have not been tested in court on each specific provision), I am fairly certain that in most states, a child who chooses not to do math for an extended period of time would result in the parent being in violation of the applicable homeschooling laws.

    “The key difference I see here, is that you are functioning from a paradigm that doesn’t trust that this core foundation can be acquired without some form of compulsion. They can and will be inspired to assume our values as we show them an example of building our homes and lives within that context every day.”

    If this has been the case in your homeschool, that’s wonderful. (I am under the impression that your children are quite young and I await your thoughts on this subject many years down the road.) In every other homeschool that I know of, children sometimes categorically refuse to complete certain assignments. While “inspiring” and “persuading” should be tried first, I have a legal obligation to be sure that certain subjects are covered and will therefore do it by compulsion if absolutely necessary (which in our house means: “No screen time or library books for you until your handwriting is done.”).

    “If we are listening to earthly voices to define our homes, we are inevitably misguided.”

    Do you consider Oliver DeMille an “earthly voice”? In any case, that statement seems to deny the “study it out in your own mind” part of the equation: of course we will listen to “earthly voices” to gain information.

    “God knows what He wants your family to be doing. He knows what your mission is. He knows what your children’s missions are. Do you?”

    It is hard for me to read this without concluding that you think that your homeschooling choices are inspired and mine are not. While I do pray over my educational decisions, I feel strongly that if others pray about theirs, they are likely to reach different conclusions than I have.

    (Although if anyone knows The One and Only True and Living Handwriting Program, please let me know, because my kids’ handwriting stinks because they learned how to hold a pen from their father, but don’t tell him I said that. :) )

  62. Julie M. Smith on June 1, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    djinn, I’ve been really pleased that we’ve been able to keep this discussion civil up to this point; please don’t encourage that to change.

  63. Researcher on June 1, 2008 at 8:09 pm

    “In his teaching, not once will you see him advocate any compulsory lessons.”

    Wow. I need go no further in this argument. In order to work with children, not only do you need to use various degrees of compulsion, you must also continually assert your authority.

    But then I always thought Rousseau was a something of a dingbat.

  64. Confused on June 1, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    What is the deal with home schooling? I just don’t get it.

    Send your kid to a normal school. Let them participate in clubs, athletics, go to dances. If you don’t think the education is up to snuff, do some extra stuff at home. Is the driving force the educational component or are you trying to shelter your poor kids?

  65. djinn on June 1, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    Forgive me, I am bowing out; but the juxtaposition of Thomas Jefferson with pretty much everything Thomas Jefferson was against was a bit much for me.

    PS. You convinced me, in an earlier argument, that Homeschooling wasn’t always a bad thing.

  66. Julie M. Smith on June 1, 2008 at 8:20 pm

    Confused, that’s a good question but I’m afraid it will take this thread far afield. Here’s a post on that topic:

    http://www.timesandseasons.org/?p=2619

    djinn, you don’t need to bow out unless you want to; I wasn’t asking you to leave, just to help me keep the conversation civil.

  67. djinn on June 1, 2008 at 8:26 pm

    Thank you. In the interest of being helpful (somewhat) Leibnitz, not Newton. They invented The Calculus simutaneously; there’s amusing stories about Newton backdating letters to prove he was the numero uno, but it’s the Leibnitz notation that won out. So, all you homeschoolers, if you really must, Leibnitz.

  68. Eric Boysen on June 1, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    “Trust the process” sounds an awful lot like a positive version of the old Amway rant against “stinking thinking.” No critical thinking allowed here! That sounds like just the reverse of a true classical education that in Jeffereson’s day meant learning both Greek and Latin to read the classical authors of classical Greece and Rome with the purpose of analyzing the ideas and learning from the successes and the failures of the past. I can see calling nineteenth century American writings as classics today, but that is hardly what Jefferson would have thought.

  69. djinn on June 1, 2008 at 8:42 pm

    Dear Researcher, Rousseau infuriates me. Obviously many things do, but Rousseau in particular. He goes and writes Emile, about the perfect education for a child, and then proceeds to deposit all of his own offspring at an orphanage, where they most certainly met an ill-fated end. Words cannot express my disgust. We should all feel free to ignore anything the man said, esp. about education; up to and including all that “natural man” nonsense (he misunderstood the experiences of an early French explorer). But, that is a threadjack for another post.

  70. Julie M. Smith on June 1, 2008 at 8:53 pm

    TJE Supporter #2,

    Thank you for responding to me and thank you for permission to post your response here. I’ve addressed many of your comments in my response to your wife (see #61 above) but I’ll address here the other issues you raised:

    “Does all education have to be accredited? A real education can come from accredited and non-accredited sources.”

    It certainly can, but I have no way of assessing the validity of an education that comes from a non-accredited source and that is the concern here. Another concern is that DeMille’s personal educational choices tells us something about his character, beliefs, and interests.

    “Do I as a parent have to be accredited in order to teach my own children?”

    Not with a teaching certification (perhaps because I do have one, I know what they aren’t worth) but I do worry about homeschooling parents who are poorly educated themselves: not that it is impossible for them to homeschool well but that the may not know what they don’t know and therefore may be unable to teach it to their children. (For example, I’ve seen homeschoolers dismiss the value of studying a foreign language because they have never studied one themselves and don’t feel any particular detriment from it.) Similarly, given DeMille’s “meandering” (your word) education, I wonder what he doesn’t know. If he had a PhD from an accredited institution, where he would have spent far more than 24 months earning it, would he have chosen to teach _Alas, Babylon_ in a college class? Would he have confused Goethe, Mendel, and Reynolds and then mangled the quotation? The goal here isn’t to insult the man personally (heavens knows I’ve made my share of blunders) but rather to question whether he is qualified to design and lead an educational movement and a college.

    “Of course you can see some of DeMille’s worldview from the book, but does that mean that someone who is not LDS should view Thomas Jefferson Education with suspicion because he is LDS?”

    Not my decision to make, or your’s, or DeMille’s. He should be upfront about it and let each individual decide if it matters. From what I have seen, TJE is deeply ingrained with (a certain strain of) LDS thought and therefore may not be appropriate for someone committed to certain evangelical, Catholic, or secular worldviews (although other evangelicals, etc., may be perfectly fine with it).

    “I am so sorry that you had a bad experience at the TJEd Info NIght.”

    I didn’t have a ‘bad experience.’ (I actually had a great time.)

  71. Jim on June 1, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    re (not at) 47 – agreed, we don’t have time to research everything and we certainly don’t have the time to go beyond research and actually associate with every person or institution or group of people we learn about, however, perhaps one should KNOW firsthand before declaring that a man and a method are ‘immoral’ and an embarrassment to the LDS community.’ Julie I apologize for the harshness of my reply, I must confess it was somewhat of a knee jerk reaction in defense of a friend – I know Dr. DeMille quite well. There are, unfortunately, many people who are trying to learn and practice the philosophy of TJE who get zealous or even fanatical and proselyte for the cause and think that public school is the devil and that any other homeschooling method is wrong and in fact there are TJE associations who probably do become clique-esque and look down their noses and are reluctant to involve people who don’t ‘do it right’ and exclude others, just as there are LDS wards who need improvement with including the ‘nonmember’ community and even new members and move ins. We all know people who have fallen in love with natural medicine and demonize mainstream medicine and all doctors, but that doesn’t make natural medicine bad. You can, by the way, learn first hand – for free – what GWC is all about. It hosts several ‘Statesmanship Retreats’ a year – a 3 day seminar which tells you and shows you what it is all about, you can hear it from the horses mouth. Now at your request that I go beyond half baked analogies, I offer some first hand experience (which obviously must be carefully considered since there is no such thing as an unbiased opinion) as I am an on-campus PhD student at GWC and my wife and I are guided by the philosophies of TJE in educating our children (with a mixture of home, public and charter schools) My reply has become quite lengthy as I have tried to address most of the article and many of the comments and I do not want to hijack this space so I have posted the rest of my reply on this blog site: http://jimhillyer.blogspot.com/ Please, if you, like response 44, want to become familiar with the materials– read the blog.

  72. dangermom on June 1, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    “dangermom, I agree with you on all counts. Much as professionals have sometimes banded together to set standards so that quacks and incompetents won’t ruin the name of the profession, it may be wise at this point for homeschool groups to design legislation. ”

    Yes, that’s what I’m thinking. While I know that many homeschoolers are adamantly opposed to anything resembling government oversight, I worry that we will find ourselves legislated into a difficult corner if we don’t come up with something ourselves. If we design the regulation, at least we have a better chance of it being sensible and effective rather than handicapping.

  73. Sara R on June 1, 2008 at 9:42 pm

    #68: Speaking of Amway, one of my non-homeschooling friends picked up a copy of TJE at a Quixtar (i.e. Amway on the Internet) convention about 5 years ago in St. George. DeMille was a speaker there.

  74. Naismith on June 1, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    “There is a vast difference between “credentials” in the world of K12 education (where a Nobel-prize winning PhD is not considered qualified to teach high school science because she doesn’t have a teaching credential)”

    I think this actually varies from state to state. In my state, the PhD would be welcome to teach high school science and could be hired immediately, with like 5 years to get a teaching certificate by taking just a few classes at night or online.

  75. Jim on June 1, 2008 at 10:32 pm

    for more than a ‘half -baked’ analogy – see a lengthy reply at http://jimhillyer.blogspot.com/
    I am currently on campus at GWC pursuing a 5 year fulltime Phd

  76. Ardis Parshall on June 1, 2008 at 11:26 pm

    (when you study this way it is as difficult and unnecessary to sight your sources when describing ideas as it is to do so when explaining photosynthesis, that the sun is at the centre of the solar system, genetics, how computers work or American History. When you teach American History or even write a book about it, it is common that no references are sighted. This does not mean the lesson was made up or plagiarized. We are taught continuously and repetitiously that there are not short cuts. [extracted from the post linked in Jim's 74]

    I disagree with 90% of your reply, Jim, at least as far as I understood it — it is not the clearest example of expository writing, is it? There’s no particular reason to sight — uh, site — uh, CITE this particular extract, except that I disagree so completely with every sentiment expressed or implied.

    You may write a book without providing citations, but whatever it is, it is NOT history. Yes, you may omit citations for widely known and accepted facts — but an entire book or article without a single new idea which is not already known and accepted? Why write it? why read it?

    I’m sorry, Jim, but while you may be a fine example of loyalty — a praiseworthy and honorable trait, for which I respect you — your reply, top to bottom, is not a positive sample of the education apparently available through GWC. A more concrete example of shortcuts and the destruction of scaffolding is hard for me to imagine: clear expression of thought, rational organization of essay, even spelling and other mechanical details, are indispensable for the expression of the grand ideas claimed for TJE and GWC. You cannot persuade if you cannot communicate.

  77. Julie M. Smith on June 1, 2008 at 11:35 pm

    From Jim’s blog: “part of the point of the college is that most mainstream credentials are in fact not useful.”

    This may be my main beef with GWC/TJE. I am in full agreement that K-12 education (and some introductory college classes) can become victims of the “conveyor belt” syndrome. But MAs and PhDs in the liberal arts are very much like what TJE advocates–only we call them “thesis advisors” and “dissertation advisors” instead of “mentors.” Hence, the hostility to these credentials by TJE’ers is baffling to me.

    “GWC does not hire specialized credentialed professors unless they DEMONSTRATE they have a broad and deep liberal education.”

    A PhD from an accredited, respected university does in fact demonstrate this.

  78. Jim on June 1, 2008 at 11:47 pm

    re. 75 Well – I suppose I could have replied with a planned and polished essay rather than whipping up a lazy Sunday afternoon reply to the request for more info from someone with first hand experience with the school – whoopie, you found a typo.

  79. Jim on June 1, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    Julie – a PhD from an accredited, respected university sometimes demonstrates that they have a specialized education, the broadness often ends with the general studies and with the choosing of a major. I absolutely agree that one can get a broad and liberal education from many sources and that there are many PhD’d profs with one, but the paper alone doesn’t prove it – that’s all I’m saying.

  80. Sara R on June 2, 2008 at 12:02 am

    #77: It’s not just a single typo on the blog. It’s also the matter of not putting spaces after periods, and not dividing main ideas up into paragraphs. You are trying to prove that GWC provides a good education, and your writing style is not helping your argument.

  81. anon for this thread on June 2, 2008 at 12:04 am

    but I do worry about homeschooling parents who are poorly educated themselves: not that it is impossible for them to homeschool well but that the may not know what they don’t know and therefore may be unable to teach it to their children. (For example, I’ve seen homeschoolers dismiss the value of studying a foreign language because they have never studied one themselves and don’t feel any particular detriment from it.)

    I guess this is my problem with the approach taken by most of the people I know who homeschool (I don’t know Julie, but I imagine she does a good job; but I know several people who do, from relatives to friends, so my experience is limited to this) — they really aren’t qualified to teach certain subjects, and some of them dismiss those shortcomings with rationales like, “well, math isn’t important anyway, not until you get to be in your teens” (so they ignore it). Or they blow off music and art and foreign languages, because those aren’t as important as Math or Science (the other extreme).

    I’m a big supporter of local control of school boards, so I extend that basic tenet to intellectually supporting homeschooling … but the people I know who homeschool – I wouldn’t let them within 500 yards of my own children’s classrooms.

    I’m sure my wife and I could adequately homeschool our children. Between us, we have the subjects mostly covered. But the basic truth is that the professional educators employed in my highly ranked public school district are every bit as good as the private sector, and certainly better at *education* that I am. I don’t generally worry about the idea of “bad messages” getting through — my wife do employ hours working with our children to instill the proper values and perspective. But I just don’t see the problem allowing the school district’s professional math teachers to train my daughter. Certainly I cannot replicate the competitive environment of her math/science team that travels the state. I can augment that education at home, in partnership with her teachers.

    I will agree with Julie’s comment that a certification isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on … but again, it comes down to the quality of the local school system. I live in the same state as Julie, and I wouldn’t send my children to certain urban school districts. But in the suburbs, we have the luxury of turning away hundreds of teacher applicants a year and pick from the very best. I find it near impossible that any two parents (or even a cluster of parents) can replicate that environment.

    I work in outsourcing, so maybe I have a tolerance for this thing. At any rate, I have issues with the homeschooling parents I actually know, the majority of whom believe that their “street smarts” or “life experience” in a particular topic outweighs formal training and methodology.

  82. anon for this thread on June 2, 2008 at 12:06 am

    (I hope I didn’t come across as dismissive of Julie. I was agreeing with her larger point. I wish Julie were teaching my children, actually.)

  83. anon for this thread on June 2, 2008 at 12:10 am

    I would disagree with Jim’s dismissal of PhDs. While a PhD may be highly specialized in one area, the general expectation is that a PhD is highly skilled in related and ancillary areas. It’s a doctor of *philosophy* (the philosophy of the particular field), not a doctor of specialized trivia. Or, at least that’s what my committee keeps telling me…

  84. Julie M. Smith on June 2, 2008 at 12:13 am

    anon, I may not be as good of a teacher as the teachers in your district, but I’ve got a few things working in my favor:

    I have a 3:1 student ratio instead of 23:1. That allows me to spend the ten minutes that I am folding laundry thinking about the best way to explain regrouping or the water cycle or the final sigma to my student who doesn’t understand it.

    It also means that I am instantly aware of whether my student is getting regrouping when I am teaching, something a classroom teacher won’t know for every child in the room for (normally) at least a few days.

    It means that I can tailor my instruction to the precise needs of every one of my students to a level that no classroom teacher can even dream of (e.g., personalized spelling assignments on a daily basis with immediate correction of mistakes and personalized suggestions for remembering difficult words).

    I’m with you in thinking that some homeschoolers are doing their children a disservice. But the advantages of one-on-one instruction are such that a “merely average” mother can often produce superior results than an above-average classroom teacher.

  85. Julie M. Smith on June 2, 2008 at 12:14 am

    (I’m feeling guilty about #83 because it is somewhat off-topic. But I couldn’t resist.)

  86. Erik Champenois on June 2, 2008 at 1:11 am

    Thanks for posting this, Julie – your post and the commentaries following it (as well as defenses of GWC and comments dealing with those defenses) has been very interesting. I personally know one person (in my ward) who has (is still, actually, doing distance learning I think) studied at George Wythe College. I also am acquainted with a home-schooling family whose daughter is currently at GWC. So—from these people and from the discussion here—I think I have an adequate idea of what GWC is about and how good or bad it is.

    A couple of objections I have to GWC:

    Simplification. GWC seems to be based on people and ideas who overtly simplify things in a Utahn, conservative, Clean Skousen, conspiracy-theory, LDS right-wingers apocalyptics type environment. I have read some of what GWC has on its website. A few good things, some good ideas, but lacking in the depth of analysis that a true secondary education should require. I think most of the GWC people are honest enough and think they got a great thing going—but they lack understanding of the greater issues involved by simplifying things and staying within one line of LDS thought. As Jim pointed out in his defense of GWC, prophets and apostles have warned us against secret combinations in General Conference before—most particularly Ezra Taft Benson. What Jim fails to understand, however, is how misguided Benson actually was in many of his beliefs. He should read “David O. McKay and the Rise of Mormonism” to see how other apostles found Benson’s right-wing views troubling, how McKay himself had some trouble with Benson, but wasn’t firm enough to let him stay quiet on his views. Unfortunately, there are many conservative LDS who see Benson as the “prophetic patriot” to follow and see the fulfillment of “Elders of Israel saving the Constitution” prophecy as fitting within his conservatism. Save the nation from secret combinations and establish the Constitution based on simple—no, simplistic—principles. I think they’ll be disappointed to see that when that prophecy comes true, they will not be the key actors they think they will be. I am also concerned that these types of conservatives may come to see the Church as partially “apostate” or fallen as they realize that the leadership does not share their views (Gordon B. Hinckley has fallen for the “new world order” in his admiration of the United Nations, as some of these people would say. Oh, man).

    Focus on primary literature—the classics—that seems to ignore the necessity of secondary literature in more fully coming to terms with the primary literature. GWC focuses a lot on the classics—which ARE important and can certainly be underestimated in some classes of universities when only commentaries to the literature, but not the actual thing, is studied. I don’t think this is as big a problem as GWC people make it, though. I’ve had excellent classes at BYU where primary sources were central to the course along with some that made less use of primary sources than I would’ve liked. Reading classics is important, yes. But if secondary sources are ignored, then one misses the chance of learning from what others have learned from the primary sources. Scholarship (in philosophy, political science theory, English, Humanities, etc.) is all about connecting and linking ideas from great works to gain new insights. Putting things into new perspectives, looking at them in new ways, etc. Reading primary works by the Founders is valuable, yes. Reading commentaries of, connections drawn from, and explications of, wrestles with, those writings is valuable as well and provides even greater depth of insight. True “liberal arts” education should focus on an equilibrium beteween primary and secondary sources, not on the “classics” only. Bernard Bailyn, Gordon Wood, Martin Diamond, Donald Lutz, Thomas G. West, Michael Zuckert, Thomas Pangle, etc. etc. are all great authors to consult in coming to terms with the primary literature and political thought of the Founders (of course the term “classic” may be vague enough to describe these authors as well but I still get the feeling that secondary literature is not studied very much at GWC).

    If it wasn’t so late, I’d write more than I have here. Basically, I agree with Jon that GWC is not just getting an easy degree. From what I have heard from my friend who has studied there, the amount of reading is intense. People DO learn from GWC but they do so within a narrowly constricted academic atmosphere. I don’t get the perception, for example, that there are any liberal professors there. It seems to be a mostly libertarian/conservative/”Constitution Party” type atmosphere and any education with such constricted viewpoints I think is quite inadequate. I mean no offense to anyone who studies at GWC—people seem to learn some good things. But— it’s a far cry from the kind of rigorous, analytic, wholesome, varied with multiple viewpoints and understanding other’s views, education that I prefer. They live in a bubble. Some good things, yes…. but …………………… simplistic and inadequate….

  87. Matt Evans on June 2, 2008 at 1:14 am

    Having graduated with two bachelors degrees Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Utah, winning the University of Utah College of Social and Behavioral Sciences Scholarship, being a national finalist for the Harry S Truman scholarship sponsored by the Congress of the United States, and graduating from Harvard Law School, the nation’s oldest and most prestigious law school, which educated the majority of justices of the United States Supreme Court, including Chief Justice John Roberts and Associate Justices Scalia, Kennedy, Souter, Ginsburg and Breyer, it is my HIGHLY-CREDENTIALED opinion that the best-written and most persuasive comment on this thread is that written by the woman identified as TJE Supporter #1.

  88. Erin Belanger on June 2, 2008 at 2:48 am

    Julie, and everyone else, thank you for the fascinating reading. I love a lively debate! I am a homeschooler( I was in attendance at the Info night that Julie was at) who was introduced to TJEd when I began homeschooling my eldest child 4 years ago. I\’ve never spent the money to attend the seminars and own most of the books and articles as gifts, so I don\’t feel as though I was \”tricked\” or even stolen from. I have nothing more than my time invested in the reading and application. My own experience with it has been that it has inspired me to delve deeper into those subjects that are of interest to me and my children. It was a springboard to reading John Holt, John Gatto, and Ruth Beechick. It gave me license to come up with an educational plan for my children that works for their individual learning styles without spending lots of money I don\’t have on curriculums that aren\’t suited to them. I appreciate the time you have taken to shed light on the man and the school behind the philosophy, but the truth is that his philosophy is just that- a philosophy. Every person that homeschools has taken upon themselves a huge commitment of time and resources for the love of their children with the understanding that there is no one else to blame if they \”fail\”. There is already a huge amount of guilt that goes on in a mother\’s heart without anyone else telling them that they are doing it wrong. I\’m grateful for the things that I have learned since first reading the Thomas Jefferson Ed. model, and though I will probably not be attending any of their seminars (I would rather spend my money on books!), I\’m glad that there are voices out there supporting reading good literature, teaching morals and values and supporting parents who are frustrated with school systems that aren\’t servicing the kids under their influence. I once read there are as many ways to homeschool as there are families that homeschool. I believe that wholeheartedly. I hope we will all support one another\’s right to educate our own children and create communities of encouragement and tolerance.P.S. If this rambles or makes no sense, it’s very late and I should be in bed, but this thread has been too interesting to dismiss.

  89. Jami on June 2, 2008 at 3:00 am

    We are a TJE family. The freedom is intoxicating and legal. There are so few things you can say that about.

    It’s amazingly late and I don’t really have time right now to tell you why the majority of you are so off-base, so I will content myself with the unsupported statement. The majority of you are so off-base.

    I will return.

  90. Rebecca Liddle Smith on June 2, 2008 at 3:23 am

    I appreciate your kind words, Matt. I’m “TJEd Supporter #1″. Alas, the only credentials to my name thus far consist of an AS degree in Child Study from West Valley College in CA. I’m currently working on my bachelor’s degree from — guess where — BYU! Unlike my husband Michael (#2), who earned B.S. and M.S. degrees in Statistics there, my own education is aptly described as “meandering”. I’ve completed enough college courses to fill multiple degrees, if they would just all fit neatly together under one or two graduate programs!

    I intended to avoid engaging myself again in this debate until after our seminar was done, but it has been difficult to lay aside. With four kids 8 and under, I don’t expect to establish any kind of regular blogging presence at this juncture in my life. How DO you all do it?

    Having grown up in the SF Bay area, I was blessed to be exposed to a broad spectrum of world views. My family of origin, while making use of public schools, also took self-education seriously. Though I am certainly no expert in argumentation or public debate, I have some siblings who are. It was something of a survival instinct that motivated me to work at writing and speaking proficiently. It was the voracious reading practices at home that afforded me a vocabulary.

    In all honesty, I’ve never been against my children returning to a more mainstream educational setting, after they turn 8. I remain firm in the belief that the #1 factor in determining the quality of a child’s education is the combination of: loving and involved self-educating parents, and a home environment that promotes learning. We gave away our television two years ago for this very reason. Guess what? We don’t miss it. No matter what vehicle we use to promote the education of our children, they won’t be educated unless they choose to be.

    Compulsion may accomplish the external trappings of an education. This is true in all school settings. When the love of learning is preserved though, the basics are much more easily acquired. Not that earning a solid education is easy. But it is only made more difficult by the assumption that it must be force fed from a young age. If we parents can instill in our children the ability to learn and to think for themselves, building on the foundation of a solid, virtuous core, they have the most important tools for future education. This, in very simple terms, is my take on what Oliver DeMille promotes.

  91. TMD on June 2, 2008 at 8:22 am

    Jim, I hate to tell you this, but your GWC education is actually quite regressive. The PhD is for people who are interested in producing new knowledge; that’s why we master not only the original texts, but also the secondary literature (i.e., so we don’t make the same mistakes, or just recreate the same work). That you don’t recognize that suggests to me that you don’t understand the nature of academia. Your description of your education absolutely ensures that I will never allow a GWC PhD to be hired in any department I’m a part of.

    Also, I’m really really hostile to the idea of arguing in favor of a pedagodgy by recourse to church doctrine or experience. They’re not even apples and oranges; they’re apples and whales. And again, if you were really being professionalized (rather than dilletantized) you would know that.

  92. rebecca loertscher on June 2, 2008 at 10:10 am

    I have found this discussion fascinating. I found Julie’s article very compelling, but many of Rebecca’s thoughts make sense too. So what’s a “normal” LDS homeschooling mom to do?

    I have educated my six children (oldest is 12) at home for six years. I started after several years of research and prayer. I did not make the decision lightly or easily. Honestly, some years I have found it very difficult to balance everything. But I have kept at it because the Spirit has counseled me so strongly that it is the right thing for our family. There are some subjects that my children are very advanced in, and some we are a bit behind in (though no more than your average public schooled child).

    Despite providing an imperfect education for my own children, of the last five wards we have lived in during the last six years, and other broad exposure which comes from having lived in four different states in that same time frame, I have not seen any public schooled families that I would want to emulate. I am not saying that there were not good families, because there were, and many awesome kids too. However, my (imperfect!) children are ahead of their compatriots in attributes such as responsibility, maturity, kindness, and understanding of the scriptures. I think these are more important. I say this only to lay a foundation for my reason for continuing to homeschool, since there was some discussion above about why anyone would homeschool. ‘Nuff said.

    I own the original TJED book and have studied the new one that came out recently, the TJED companion book. I have also read some additional writings, borrowed from a TJED friend, that can be purchased on the GWC website. I found them very interesting.

    My first serious introduction to TJED came through a friend. I admire her greatly. She is a wonderful mom and doing a great job homeschooling. However, despite my studies and discussions with her, I have never been able to come to a place where I feel right about TJED. I think some of its principles are sound doctrinally, though more useful in the older grades.

    My big problem with TJED, at least among members of the church, is I always get the feeling that they think that TJED is the “one true way to homeschool.” Many members of the church, myself included, have searched writings of our modern and ancient prophets for the Lord’s revealed method of education. I have uncovered principles, but no “method” yet, at least not that I could easily apply to our homeschool setting as I raise and care for six small children.

    So which way is right? Is TJED really a crock? Is it the one true way to homeschool? Or could they both be right together–taking some principles into your homeschool and discarding the rest?

    All I can say is, it has never felt right to me personally and I wonder if it is because I am a spiritual neanderthal and I don’t know it! Help!

  93. Researcher on June 2, 2008 at 10:29 am

    “However, my (imperfect!) children are ahead of their compatriots in attributes such as responsibility, maturity, kindness, and understanding of the scriptures.”

    I’ve met homeschooled children like this. I’m glad the system has worked for you. I’ve also known homeschooled children who were just your run of the mill kids and were struggling just as hard if not harder in life than other children.

    I’ve known homeschooled children who were not able to fit into society. I’ve also known public schooled children who were not socially appropriate.

    Homeschooling is no more a guarantee of good social and educational results than a PhD is a guarantee of wisdom. (Which I say knowing scores of PhDs fairly well.)

    I would humbly suggest that the “my homeschooled children are just so much more wonderful than other children” argument is neither a logical, rational, nor a necessary defense of homeschooling.

  94. Ardis Parshall on June 2, 2008 at 10:36 am

    Rebecca, presumably you expect your children will at least meet, probably exceed, the standard of your own education. From the writing sample you have provided, that means your children are learning to spell, capitalize, and punctuate; to organize their thoughts coherently; and to express their ideas clearly. Presumably they are also learning to research and analyze, based on your example.

    For a bonus, you’re funny, you spiritual neanderthal, you.

  95. Julie M. Smith on June 2, 2008 at 10:57 am

    “Many members of the church, myself included, have searched writings of our modern and ancient prophets for the Lord\’s revealed method of education.”

    Why would you assume that the Lord has revealed a method of education? If it is not a matter of salvation (and I don’t believe that it is), why would there be “a revealed method”? Given the problems getting people on board with the basics that are essential for salvation (prayer, scripture study, etc.), why would you expect to find a non-essential in the scriptures?

    (These are genuine questions, not a veiled attack.)

  96. Matt Evans on June 2, 2008 at 11:06 am

    Rebecca and Rebecca,

    Your kids are lucky to have you so involved in their educations. We’ve never tried homeschooling our kids (now ages 9, 8, 6, 2, 2, and 0) but admire those who do. Our public school teachers are great, but a huge part (a majority?) of what my kids learn at school they learn from kids exactly their own age, and that’s detrimental. My ideal educational situation would be for my kids to be included in a conscientious homeschool program — run by someone else. Be glad you don’t live next door — we might resort to begging!

  97. Kay Cookie on June 2, 2008 at 11:07 am

    I am interested in homeschooling, though would probably never pursue it because my husband is opposed (also, as he is Japanese and the possibility of moving to Japan is always there, however slim, according to him, the Japanese government does not recognize home schooling and that would put our children in a difficult situation to say the least). My concern with what I’ve seen, even among many rigorous and classic-based curricula implemented, is the lack of focus and stress on math and science. As an engineering PhD student myself, I have found my study of mathematics very rewarding, but I must say, I would probably have had the initial enthusiasm to lead myself to learn the basics of arithmetic and geometry in the early years. And it seems that the only way to really learn hard science and math is a very rigorous, methodical study from at least the late elementary years on. Unlike many subjects, where any good reader can learn later on their own, engineering, math and science require a very very strong math and science background in elementary, middle, and high school. And you really can’t learn that by studying classics texts. And you can’t learn that from someone who isn’t strong in math and science to begin with, especially getting into harder algebra, calculus, physics, etc. I know many students go on to take classes at the community colleges as they get into high school years, which is definitely a solution granted that their parents gave them a strong beginning. I just hope that homeschooled children would have the same opportunities that students do at the good school districts (of course, I acknowledge that many public school students attend poor schools and are probably likewise denied this opportunity).

  98. Julie M. Smith on June 2, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Kay, thank you for that perspective; I agree fully.

  99. Idahospud on June 2, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Julie, thank you so much for this extensive, well-researched, and insightful discussion. I heard both OD and his wife Rachel (who spoke about the Hebrew alphabet) speak at a homeschooling conference in Utah in the late 90′s, and bought TJE. I found it very affirming of the lifestyle I had chosen for my family, but not very instructive–The Well-Trained Mind fit that niche beautifully when I discovered it a couple of years later (that my 15yo was ready for and aced college-credit math and composition courses I attribute to following TWTM).

    I’m sure that parents who are dedicated can make the principles of TJE work for their families in terms of academic success; there seems to be anecdotal evidence for that. I guess I’m ambivalent about avoiding an educational approach because its founders may be suspect (not that I’m boiling Julie’s research down to such a reductive statement), but I do have reservations about promoting, even tangentially, MLM-type organizations even if the “product” has some benefits.

  100. Julie M. Smith on June 2, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Let me add: I think the desire to study classics in science and math is a good one, but their place is in a “history of science” course, not science (or math) itself.

    The “Story of Science” series by Joy Hakim is superb and I would strongly recommend it for about ages 7 through adult. (It would actually make a great read-aloud for a family and is substantial enough that an adult would enjoy it.)

  101. Researcher on June 2, 2008 at 11:34 am

    Julie 94 in reply to 91 said: “If it is not a matter of salvation (and I don’t believe that it is), why would there be “a revealed method”? [of educating children]”

    I agree.

    That reminds me of a discussion with someone as a missionary. They wanted to know if we believed that having the Book of Mormon was necessary for salvation. My response is that not only was the BofM not necessary, the Bible was also not necessary. The people at the time of Christ did not have the scriptures and their salvation was not dependent on having or not having any particular scripture. Their salvation was dependent on Jesus Christ.

    Scriptures are wonderful. They are a touchstone for our religion. They are a vital part of our religious and spiritual and daily life. They contain the doctrines of salvation. They do not contain salvation itself. They contain many important principles and knowledge. However, they do not contain all the learning and experience of the human race.

    They do not contain the principles of microbiology. If I want to find that out, I will go to a wonderful, almost-new textbook I picked up at a garage sale on Saturday for 50 cents. (Woo-hoo! Anyone need to know the steps involved in water treatment? Types of genetic mutations? The transmission of cryptosporidiosis?)

    The scriptures do not contain the principles of physics. If I want to learn those, I go find a course or series of books on physics. I will learn about motion, waves, thermodynamics, mechanics and so forth.

    The scriptures do not contain the science of astronomy. The scriptures may contain references to or poems about astronomy, because it is one of the oldest forms of science, and I may go to the scriptures for an appreciation of the wonders of the heavens and the creations, but I will not go there to learn about orbits and comets and radiation pressures and magnetic fields.

    I will go to the scriptures to find out how to deal with the death of both of my grandmas in the last few weeks. I will go to the scriptures to deal with the death of my friend’s son. I will go to the scriptures for comfort. I’ll go to the scriptures for ideas on how to relate to my children and my husband. I’ll go to the scriptures for ideas on how to increase my faith and for encouragement on how to live my life from day to day.

    I realize why the line may blur about what is in the scriptures when you move into the social sciences and “fuzzy” human development-related fields like education. Perhaps it is exacerbated since there are instructions in the scriptures on how to teach in a gospel setting.

    The thought process must go like this: Because I find so much day-to-day personal and parenting and even gospel teaching advice in the scriptures, I should be able to expand what I find in the scriptures to apply to how to teach children in their day to day education.

    Whoa. There’s a big gap in logic somewhere in there.

    Well, my kindergartener is going to be getting off the bus in a couple of minutes so I’ll have to abandon my thoughts here but I’ve enjoyed the discussion.

  102. Ardis Parshall on June 2, 2008 at 11:38 am

    94: Julie, I read Rebecca’s “search” as being gently ironic — proponents of this or that method targeting LDS families make exaggerated religiously-oriented claims for their programs (Rebecca writes: My big problem with TJED, at least among members of the church, is I always get the feeling that they think that TJED is the \”one true way to homeschool.\”). She pretends to have taken them at their word — that their method is inspired — by trying to find the inspiration they claim, and is mostly unsuccessful.

    That is, Julie and Rebecca agree: no such method is to be found in revealed scripture, and such claims for a teaching method are somewhat fanatical.

  103. Ardis Parshall on June 2, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Researcher and I keep crossing in the mail. I’m not arguing with you at all, Researcher, just coincidentally seem to keep commenting immediately after you.

  104. Erin Belanger on June 2, 2008 at 11:41 am

    Rebecca, I think you hit the nail on the head. We need to educate ourselves on the schools of thought presented to us, take what is good from it and discard the rest (or revisit it when it seems applicable). All children learn differently and every mother knows their child best and can help them in the best way using all the tools available to her.( I don’t mean to exclude fathers, but most homeschool families I know are administered to mainly by the mothers.) De Mille is not espousing brand new doctrines, they are all borrowed from other sources. It is ultimately up to us to separate the wheat from the chaff in whatever we expose our children to. Sometimes there is more wheat, sometimes more chaff. What I think draws people, and especially LDS people, to these ideas is that they empower the individual to study, learn and expand their knowledge, no matter where they are starting from on their educational path, and directly pass that enthusiasm for learning to their children. I remember speaking to a mother that was homeschooling and asked what we were doing that year. When I told her we were studying ancient cultures she said she didn’t dare do that because she didn’t know anything about it. I told her I didn’t have much knowledge either, but I wanted my children to be exposed to it, so we learned together and were having a marvelous time. They saw me enjoying the things I was learning and I could share activities with them. That exposed them to the cultures and ideas I was learning about and we applied to it the Bible readings we were studying. TJEd encourages us to not fear what we don’t know and gain that knowledge for ourselves. As with nearly all schools of thought there are militant supporters that appear almost cultish in their veneration of their leader and ideas. There are zealots. This puts most people off who are probably already applying some of these principles that they have received from other sources. Am I being diplomatic enough? You are all right!

  105. Julie M. Smith on June 2, 2008 at 12:06 pm

    Ardis, I hope your reading is right and mine is wrong. My experience with people who *do* think that this kind of thing can be found in the scriptures (see, e.g., #57) had led me to take her at face value.

    Erin, I agree with your assessment but my sense is that a program such as Sonlight or WTM (there are others, too) has the advantages of empowering a parent to learn alongside a child but will provide vastly superior materials with which to do so. My concern with TJE is that the kinds of learning suggested and the materials used aren’t up to snuff. Studying the classics is a great idea–studying classics deemed classics by those most educated on the topic, using methods designed to best get at what the classic is trying to teach, and studying them in context is far better. I think TJE is failing on all three counts.

  106. Julie M. Smith on June 2, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    And, to follow up, Erin, my critique of TJE is tempered by, as I said in the original post, the awareness that some people–and I sense this includes you–use the method and educate their children in an excellent manner. My sense is also that a good education is more in spite of TJE than because of it. Although, again, some of their ideas are useful.

  107. John Griffiths on June 2, 2008 at 12:18 pm

    There are other great resources available you just need to look on the internet

  108. Researcher on June 2, 2008 at 12:35 pm

    Perhaps Julie can correct me here if I’m wrong, but for much of the period covered by the scriptures, education was a male thing. The Torah schools and all of that. If you were going to follow a biblical or scriptural model of education, you would only educate your sons.

  109. rebecca loertscher on June 2, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Sorry I am scatterbrained today, our household goods are shipping this week due to ANOTHER move. This time it is to Texas, the hotbed of TJED controversy. I can hardly wait!

    I DID want to point out that I have successfully used some TJED principles in my own home. That is why I find the philosophy confusing, because some things seem right and others seem fishy.

    For example: when my then 9-year-old son was complaining about math, I had him take a break and read “Mathematicians are people too.” I was hoping stories about famous mathematicians would inspire him to do better. He found it very interesting and the complaining stopped. I believe he had a stronger desire to do better in math.

    After reading the new TJED companion, I created a life learning plan for my children with my husband and found the process very instructive. I would have never thought of doing this on my own.

    Also after reading the TJED companion, I adopted the child job system outlined by Diann Jeppson in our home with great success. Again, I probably would not have thought of doing this on my own.

    My husband and I have tried to increase our “inspiring” as we teach our children the gospel.

    However, as I read both TJED books, as well as other materials, sometimes I would laugh out loud at the things the children would do…happily choosing to memorize math facts for example. Obviously these families are ready to be translated. I just think it is foolish to believe that children–read, immature and selfish–will choose to do all things in their best interest, even if inspired.

    On the other hand, the only TJED children I have known well enough to make a judgment were wonderful and a shining example at church and in their education. Don’t the scriptures say ye shall know them by their fruits?

    I do wonder…the pattern that our church uses to teach the children and youth seems to combine “require” and “inspire.” For example, primary children are not allowed to roll around on the floor during sharing time–at least not in most primaries. They are “inspired” to memorize the Articles of Faith. Youth are required to be modest at dances, keep morally clean, etc. but inspired to live a more spirit-filled life. At home, I require that my children not fight, but try and inspire them to go farther and be charitable to one another. Do you think these examples apply, or am I off the mark philosophically?

    OK–good luck everyone, figuring this out. I’ve got to get ready for my movers tomorrow!!

  110. Julie M. Smith on June 2, 2008 at 2:12 pm

    Researcher, that is the tip of the iceburg regarding the differences between education in biblical times and education now. If you want to get serious about it, you probably shouldn’t teach your children about zero if you are striving to emulate a biblical education.

    rebecca, where in Texas? I hope we’re neighbors! I think one way of resolving the confusion that you mention is to look at it this way: you can find the overall methodology flawed yet still find good ideas in the theory. For example, the grain of truth in unschooling is that children need unstructured time to learn on their own. I can find that truth there even if I think that unschooling is a less-than-ideal approach in most cases.

    I agree with you on the inspire/require debate and would add that not only do Primary classes require certain behavior, but they cover material determined by an expert source–not the whim of the child.

  111. ESO on June 2, 2008 at 2:20 pm

    This discussion has made me think that GWC is simply courting future students: I will look for thousunds of TJE educated homeschoolers paying their outrageous tutition for bogus BA degress in the years to come.

    How is that for conspiracy theory?

  112. gst on June 2, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    ESO: It’s highly plausible.

  113. ESO on June 2, 2008 at 2:33 pm

    Well, with gst’s validation, I say: let’s proceed with the segregation. I’d hate to have my kids inadvertantly fall in love with and marry a right-winger.

  114. Rebecca Liddle Smith on June 2, 2008 at 3:14 pm

    Would you all do me a favor and clarify which Rebecca you are referring to? I’m fairly certain the recent posts are not in response to me, but it would be nice to have it explicit in the post.
    Thanks! Rebecca S.

  115. Mark IV on June 2, 2008 at 3:19 pm

    It could be worse, ESO.

    You could live where I do, where the property taxes you are compelled to pay go for the support of Paul Robeson high school, where kids proudly wear their Che t-shirts. Why is that considered mainstream and GWC isn’t?

  116. Erik Champenois on June 2, 2008 at 3:27 pm

    I guess what determines if you like GWC or not is mostly determined by whether you’re a strong conservative/ right-winger or not (i.e., from the spectrium of mainstream Utahn conservative to extreme Utahn ultra-conservative). No one at GWC (as far as I can see) are seriously going to consider questioning their (almost religiously) conservative beliefs. Any kind of government involvement to help out the poor or provide any kind of services is socialism to them, suspect because of the (Hayek-inspired) “slippery slope” it provides for government to become an ultimate tyranny (even public schools are questioned). So, if you fall into these categories go to GWC. If you don’t, you’ll likely find a narrowness there that you probably won’t like. These are the kind of LDS conservatives who view Scandinavian social democracies as leading to government tyranny and contrary to true freedom (even though LDS reside in these countries). They would be well served with reading more literature, with an open mind, about other political and institutional views, but alas, their unquestioned ultra-conservatism is often too strong.

  117. Erik Champenois on June 2, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    What I meant to say in the last sentences was that Scandinavian LDS would fall under LDS ultra-conservatives condemnation of those who uphold the socialism they see as leading to tyranny. In other words, prophets like Benson have indicated the need to fight against socialism and because Scandinavians and many Americans don’t do so, their salvation may possbily be imperiled. At least that seems to be the logical conclusions of some of these ultra-conservative mindsets.

  118. djinn on June 2, 2008 at 3:33 pm

    Che is a fashion icon, duuuude. Is he wearing a Bart-Simpson T-shirt, perchance, on any of those T’s?

  119. Kim Siever on June 2, 2008 at 3:50 pm

    Julie,

    Could you list the sources you used for your post. Someone I know is involved with TJEd, and I’d like to read your sources in their entirety to get some more information on it and make my own conclusions.

    Thanks.

  120. Mark IV on June 2, 2008 at 3:52 pm

    djinn, duuuude,

    It would derail the conversation to ask why, exactly, Che is an acceptable fashion icon. Anybody who can’t tell the difference between Che and Bart Simpson needs to watch the Simpsons more. Now THAT is an educational movement I could support!

    My larger point is that I don’t think there is much critical thinking going on at either GWC or Robeson, so I don’t see much of a point in preferring one over the other.

  121. Jami on June 2, 2008 at 5:10 pm

    Classics, not textbooks: The link provided is for an individual’s TJE support site. They mention that they are not affiliated with Oliver DeMille or with GWC, here: http://www.tjed.org/links . Here is an online copy of DeMille’s list of classics for children and youth: http://www.schoolofabraham.com/gwcchildren.htm .

    One of the things that ought to be mention regarding this list and the list JMS links is that these books are intended to be read to children and by youth. It is not a list of books to read for a college degree. Here is a much more extensive list of lists: http://www.schoolofabraham.com/guidedreading.htm .

    One of the points that I really like about TJE is that classics also include any book that is life-changing for you. My personal list of classics includes The Book of Mormon, an herb book, a childbirth book, a particular homeschool book, as well as several children’s books that were an important part of my life when I was young. My children’s personal lists are very different from mine.

    Additionally, several series of textbooks can be considered classics. The Saxon Math series is one that readily comes to mind. The objection to textbooks is not based on their bindings or publishers. A textbook that takes original sources and interprets those sources and draws conclusion for the reader is objectionable because it shuts down thinking instead of encouraging it. Introducing children to primary sources and leading a discussion with them, allowing them to decide what they think is being taught is so much better in the minds of those who embrace TFE philosophy.

    Real life application: Last year in addition to their other studies, my older children were involved in a co-op experience that focused on Shakespeare. The first semester each of the 20 students gave a five minute presentation on a topic of their choice from the history of Shakespeare, topics which ranged from weapons to food to architecture.

    Each studen read/watched/listened to between seven and thirty-eight plays. (One of mine read all thirty-eight. The other was content to stop at a dozen.) Their class time focused on King Lear, discussing philosophical issues each week with their peers. Sometimes the discussion was lame. Sometimes profound. They’re teenagers.

    They each wrote five essays on Lear, exploring the most interesting of their weekly discussion questions. Those essays were graded in TJE fashion, A or DA, acceptable or do again.

    The next semester the kids put on Comedy of Errors, focusing almost exclusively on the production. They attended several live performances in various venues. It was serious fun.

    At some point, someone will say, “Sure your kids are learning something, but what about all of the moronic TJE families?” To which I would respond, my stewardship is over my kids and those who are entrusted to me as students. Moronic Montessori families will have poor results, as will stupid Waldorf families, as will dumb classical education advocates. Will they have worse results than they would’ve in the public school system? Maybe. Maybe not. But as for me and my kids, we’re doing fine. And have not leapt off of any MLM precipices that I know of.

  122. Jason Williams on June 2, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Let me state up front that I am a TJE / GWC supporter. I have attended seminars both on- and off-campus and my wife and I hosted the F2F seminars in Dallas a year or so ago. I have found the discussion in this thread to be very interesting and wanted to add a couple of comments.

    1. In the few years that I have been involved with GWC, I have never once felt that they were just trying to push a product to turn a profit. I believe that every seminar I have attended has been well worth the cost involved and I have always come away inspired to make positive changes in my life. I approached GWC about being a host after traveling to California to attend a seminar because I felt that others in the Dallas area could benefit from having the seminars close by. I was never given any sort of sales plan nor training on how to \”sell\” the seminar. I also did not profit monetarily from hosting the seminars nor was I given any sort of expectation that I would (unlike any MLM meeting that I have ever attended). I did it because I felt inspired to and I am grateful I did because we were able to make some great friends in the process.

    2. TJE is not for everyone and I do not believe (nor do the other TJEd\’ers that I am acquainted with) that it is the only way to educate. We have used materials such as WTM, Sonlight, etc… and we are always interested in learning about other resources to use within our TJE environment. That being said, I am very passionate about TJE and if people ask me about homeschooling, I will likely tell them more about TJE than they really wanted to know. I strongly encourage others to read the book as well as attend seminars because of the impact that they have had on my life.

    3. I don\’t share the concerns that Julie does for GWC or Oliver DeMille. My own experiences have proven to me over and over again that this is the right path for me and my family. I appreciate the concerns that have been raised but I would hope that they would not prevent someone from looking further into TJE to find out if it is for them or not. If you read Dr DeMile\’s book and you don\’t think TJE is for you, that\’s great. But if feel like you should learn more, I would encourage you to follow the prompting. I\’m glad that I did.

  123. gst on June 2, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    Hmm… “follow the prompting.” Where have I heard that before?

  124. Steve Evans on June 2, 2008 at 5:41 pm

    gst, that would be at my NuSkin/Herbalife/Amway/Tahitian Noni megaseminar at the Little American Hotel, last weekend.

  125. Jeremy on June 2, 2008 at 5:45 pm

    You left out Scentsy Candles, Steve. What about the Scentsy Candles???!!!

  126. Jami on June 2, 2008 at 5:56 pm

    The MLM comparison doesn’t work. You do not have to spend a penny to apply the TJE philosophy to your own education or to your children’s. No one has down lines. I don’t get a cut of the take if you decide to explore TJE philosophies. I can cherry-pick the ideas I want to follow, if I want. No one is going to hunt me down for messing with their trademark.

    While TJE may not be everyone’s thing, mockery of intelligent people’s thoughtful decisions is unseemly. This is not BCC or fMh after all.

  127. Kim Siever on June 2, 2008 at 6:03 pm

    Uh . . . how long have you been coming to T&S, Jami?

  128. Jami on June 2, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    So sorry. Steve pissed me off a bit.

  129. Kim Siever on June 2, 2008 at 6:21 pm

    What I meant, is that people at T&S do the same thing. BCC and FMH don’t hold the monopoly on being self righteous or making people feel stupid. If anything, one could argue it all started here.

  130. Steve Evans on June 2, 2008 at 6:44 pm

    “Steve pissed me off a bit.”

    I tend to do that. Take it from anyone, what I say is of no consequence.

  131. Julie M. Smith on June 2, 2008 at 7:33 pm

    Kim, all sources are linked in the original post. Virtually all of the information came from the official history of GWC, which is a PDF on their homepage. Exceptions to that (such as the interview snippet) are linked to their source as occur.

    In response to #118: “classics also include any book that is life-changing for you”

    This is another part of my beef with TJE: the tendency to use terms in a way that no one else does. While people may disagree with which books should be considered classics, no one outside of TJE thinks that a classic is “any book that changed your life.” Similarly, a non-TJE’er, hearing the phrase “Thomas Jefferson Education” might be inclined to think that it had something to do with either the education that TJ received or the kind that he recommended. Neither is the case.

    Re #123: mockery of other blogs is unseemly as well. That said, there are a few comments upstream from you that could have (and should have) been kinder. I would like to keep this thread open a little longer because I think there are more ideas to air, but I will have to close it down if people become nasty.

  132. ESO on June 2, 2008 at 7:37 pm

    I am generally suspicious about secular ideas/movements/teachings of men about which people bear testimony, as numerous TJeders have done here.

  133. gst on June 2, 2008 at 8:00 pm

    I prefer to give my kids the Groucho Marx Education (GME): They leave home at the age of 15 to join a traveling vaudeville troupe that shortly goes bust, leaving them stranded with no money in a remote mining town in the Colorado Rockies.

  134. Jami on June 2, 2008 at 8:52 pm

    Steve, actually it was Julie who pissed me off. I just felt more comfortable grouching at you. Sorry.

    Julie, I respect you a great deal. I do not think that this post matches the thoughtfulness or accuracy that I’ve seen in some of your other posts.

    You haven’t read the book. You haven’t attended any seminars. You’ve gotten your sources wrong. You’ve gotten your information wrong. You’ve attacked an entire group of people.

    Many of your commenters are arguing from ignorance. The only information that they have is your less than complete, less than accurate, less than kind information. The entire “this group of people give me the willies” line of argument can benefit no one.

    Erase my comment. Close down the thread. Whatever. I’ve said as much as I’m going to say on the subject.

  135. Julie M. Smith on June 2, 2008 at 8:54 pm

    “You’ve gotten your sources wrong. You’ve gotten your information wrong.”

    If you would care to list specifics, I would be happy to respond to them.

  136. Jami on June 2, 2008 at 9:27 pm

    Not today, Julie. Sorry. Real life calls.

  137. Rebecca Liddle Smith on June 2, 2008 at 10:00 pm

    >Why would you assume that the Lord has revealed a method of education? If it is not a matter of salvation (and I don’t believe that it is), why would there be “a revealed method”? Given the problems getting people on board with the basics that are essential for salvation (prayer, scripture study, etc.), why would you expect to find a non-essential in the scriptures?

    No educational methods can be gleaned from the scriptures…? Salvation is all about education. No one can be saved in ignorance. Intelligence, truth, wisdom, light? Our attainment of them is education. It doesn’t matter if you want to define some things as essentials, and others as non-. The process by which we attain spiritual, moral, intellectual, and physical knowledge/education/learning is the same.

    Of course no one is going to find physics, biology, or calculus in the scriptures. But you artificially narrow the definition of education here. ‘Getting on board with the basics,’ as you say, is education. It is the first priority of many parents, TJEd, homeschooling, and otherwise. We would call this core phase (ages 0-8). The learning content of this phase is not limited by religious persuasion. It is simply the season in which our core is defined. In focusing entirely on these spiritual or moral basics during core years; by refraining from force-fed academics; by exposing children to academics in a joyful way and therefore feeding the love of learning; by defining a child and family’s moral and spiritual identity; by establishing strong parent-child relationships without compulsion; I believe children are getting the most important education. I build from that foundation. And I think you do too. I hope you can see here that I’m not saying TJEd is the “only true and living Way” to educate. But it is a good place to start.

    Here is an excerpt from Neil Flinders’ “Teach the Children”, published in 1990:

    “Learning from an agency point of view is like a three-link chain; first, we become aware, then we choose, and last, we act. It is the individual who becomes aware, chooses, and acts. All these functions reside in and are legitimately controlled by the individual. This puts us in control of learning. By the very nature of our being, we as learners are in charge of our own learning. All other influences related to learning are secondary — materials, strategies, facilities, and other people. The primary forces of learning begin within the person and extend into the world of secondary influences. It is incorrect and ineffective to practice education by reversing this order; it violates the principles of agency education.

    Boyd K. Packer emphasized the application of this principle in these words:
    I have a message for parents about the education of your children…We develop control by teaching freedom….When one understands the gospel, it becomes very clear that the best control is self-control.

    It may seem unusual at first to foster self-control by centering on freedom of choice, but it is a very sound doctrinal approach.

    While either subject may be taught separately, and though they may appear at first to be opposites, they are in fact the same subject.

    Some who do not understand the doctrinal part do not readily see the relationship between obedience and agency. And they miss one vital connection and see obedience only as restraint. They then resist the very thing that will give them true freedom. There is no true freedom without responsibility, and there is no enduring freedom without a knowledge of the truth…. Latter-day Saints are not obedient because they are compelled to be obedient. They are obedient because they know certain spiritual truths and have decided, as an expressin of their own individual agency, to obey….”pp.143-4, Ibid.

    What I think your original concern was, and what took us down this road, was this impression of yours that TJEd is like radical Unschooling: When a parent requires absolutely nothing of a child: he can get up and go to sleep whenever he wants, play video games all day etc, without accountability or responsibility. Your comments:

    >He does go on to say that he thinks this set-up would be unlikely in a mentoring situation. But when push comes to shove, DeMille doesn’t believe in shoving. What DeMille is advocating–even in Texas, which is known for its extremely lax homeschooling laws–is illegal.

    TJEd is legal and educationally sound. If the quality of thinking or principle is lacking in the minds of some, fine. It has served as a springboard for many intelligent educational pursuits. What DeMille said is true of any sixteen year old that doesn’t know how to write a paragraph: “it will be because he chose not to.” Thank you for the fascinating discussion.

  138. Seth R. on June 2, 2008 at 10:30 pm

    I think “unschooling” is a useful option to have on the table, and is warranted in SOME children’s cases.

    Honestly though, I think a lot of parents use it as an excuse not to do their jobs.

  139. Julie M. Smith on June 2, 2008 at 11:07 pm

    Jami, I’m sorry that you are not able to engage me right now. I appreciate the link you provided to more TJE reading lists although I have to say that I find the content deeply disturbing:

    –the only Supreme Court case is Dred Scott (!)
    –there is virtually nothing from the middle ages
    –there is virtually nothing writing during (or about) any ancient civilizations, including Greece, Rome, and Egypt
    –there is no science
    –there is virtually nothing from non-western cultures
    –but Louis L’Amour is still there (two titles)

    You may want to compare that list with lists of “great books” (available from a variety of sources–just google) to see why TJE is lacking.

    Rebecca L. S. writes, “And I think you do too.”

    No, this isn’t true at all. I believe that compulsion serves several important functions in elementary education: not just because some content is legally and morally required, but because I am teaching my children that children do not know best what they need to learn (adults do) and that it is important to develop the ability to complete tasks one is not thrilled with.

    Rebecca L. S., I’d like for you to write a letter to Pres. Packer and see what he thinks about allowing elementary age children to choose what they learn in school and to permit them (to use the example that you gave on Fri) to never study spelling if they are not so inclined. My best guess is that he won’t be OK with that. I believe that your application of gospel principles and authoritative statements here is grossly incorrect. Consider how the Church does education: Primary, YM/YW, CES (seminary and Institute). Does it look like TJE to you or is there a curriculum of set material determined by a source other than the child that is taught to the child regardless of the child’s personal interests?

    “TJEd is legal and educationally sound.”

    Rebecca L.S., what you told us Fri. night was that if a child had no interest in studying spelling, under TJEd, they would not have to study spelling. The applicable Texas law states that homeschooled children must study “reading, spelling, grammar, math and a course in good citizenship.”

  140. TMD on June 2, 2008 at 11:11 pm

    “Unschooling?” Seriously? There should be criminal charges.

  141. Julie M. Smith on June 2, 2008 at 11:17 pm

    TMD, “unschooling” is an term that means different things to different people. I know unschooling families that are providing extraordinarily good educations to their children by filling their homes with rich educational resources that they know will appeal to their children and carefully monitoring what the child is doing so that they can find ways to (gently, without coercion) cover the bases. It isn’t my cup of tea, and it can be grossly misused, but it is possible to do it in such a way that it provides an adequate education.

  142. Julie M. Smith on June 2, 2008 at 11:48 pm

    Rebecca L.S., I was so taken aback by your use of President Packer as an advocate for your position that I decided to find his statement and put it in context. I assume that you did not do that or you definitely would not have quoted him. (Themes of TJE here: taking things out of context and using them for purposes contrary to the original author’s intent . . . not understanding one’s source . . .) Here are some more excerpts from the talk (April 83 conference) that you quoted from:

    “If you want your son to play the piano, it is good to expose him to music. This may give him a feel for it and help greatly in his learning. But this is not enough. There is the practice and the memorization and the practice and the practice and the practice before he can play it well.

    If you want your daughter to learn a language, expose her to those who speak it. She may get a feel for the language, even pick up many words. But this is not enough. She must memorize grammar and vocabulary. She must practice pronunciation. There is rote learning without which she will never speak or write the language fluently.

    So it is with the gospel. One may have a feel for it. But some time one must learn the doctrine. Here, too, rote learning, practice, memorization, reading, listening, discussion, all become essential. There is no royal road to learning.

    The Church can help parents because this kind of learning is effectively given in a classroom setting. So we have seminaries, institutes, religion classes; there are priesthood, Sunday School, and auxiliary classes. The curriculum for all of them centers in the scriptures and the history of the Church. Spiritual development is tied very closely to a knowledge of the scriptures, where the doctrines are found. ”

    “Elective courses are being reduced in number, and they must be carefully selected. Without guidance, your student may choose another elective instead of seminary, or another course instead of an institute class. That would surely be a mistake. It would be like adding one more brick to the house of knowledge when there is little mortar to hold it all together. Parents, encourage, even insist, that your students register for seminary or institute. “

  143. Ray on June 2, 2008 at 11:58 pm

    Yeah, Julie, that puts a slightly different light on it.

  144. Jami on June 3, 2008 at 12:46 am

    One Hundred Selections from the George Wythe College Required Classics List

    Source: appendix A of Oliver Van DeMille’s

    A Thomas Jefferson Education:

    Teaching a New Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century, © 2000.

    Acton, The History of Freedom

    John Adams, “Thoughts on Government”

    Aquinas, “On Kingship”

    Aristotle, Nichomachean Ethics

    Aristotle, Politics

    Aristotle, Rhetoric

    Augustine, The City of God

    Aurelius, Meditations

    Austen, Pride and Prejudice

    Austen, Sense and Sensibility

    Bacon, Novum Organum

    Bastait, The Law

    Bastait, “What is Seen and Not Seen”

    Benson, “The Proper Role of Government”

    The Bible

    Boethius, The Consolidation of Philosophy

    Bronte, Wuthering Heights

    Bronte, Jane Eyre

    Carson, The American Tradition

    Capra, The Tao of Physics

    Chesterton, Orthodoxy

    Churchill, Collected Speeches

    Cicero, The Republic

    Cicero, The Laws

    Clausewitz, On War

    Confucius, Analects

    The Constitution of the United States

    Copnicus, On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres

    Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People

    Dante, The Divine Comedy

    The Declaration of Independence

    DeFoe, Robinson Crusoe

    Descartes, A Discourse on Method

    Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

    Dickens, Great Expectations

    Douglas, Magnificent Obsession

    Durant, A History of Civilization

    Einstein, Relativity

    Emerson, Collected Essays

    Euclid, Elements

    Frank, Alas Babylon

    Franklin, Letters and Writings

    Freud, Civilization and Its Discontents

    Galileo, Two New Sciences

    Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire

    Goethe, Faust

    Hobbes, Levathan

    Homer, The Iliad

    Homer, The Odyssey

    Hugo, Les Miserables

    Hume, Essays Moral, Political, and Literary

    Jefferson, Letters, Speeches, and Writings

    Keegan, History of Warfare

    Kepler, Epitome

    Martin Luther King, Jr., Collected Speeches

    Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions

    Lavoisier, Elements of Chemistry

    Lewis, Mere Christianity

    Lewis, The Screwtape Letters

    Lewis, The Weight of Glory

    Lincoln, Collected Speeches

    Locke, Second Treatise of Government

    Machiavelli, The Prince

    Madison, Hamilton and Jay, The Federalist Papers

    Marx and Engels, The Communist Manifesto

    More, Utopia

    The Magna Charta

    Mill, On Liberty

    Milton, Paradise Regained

    Mises, Human Action

    The Monroe Doctrine

    Montesquieu, The Spirit of the Laws

    Newton, Mathematical Principles

    Nichomachus, Introduction to Arithmetic

    Neitzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

    The Northwest Ordinance

    Orwell, 1984

    Plato, Collected Works

    Polybius, Histories

    Potok, The Chosen

    Plutarch, Lives

    Ptolemy, Algamest

    Shakespeare, Collected Works

    Skousen, The Five Thousand Year Leap

    Skousen, The Majesty of God’s Law

    Skousen, The Making of America

    Smith, The Wealth of Nations

    Solzhenitsyn, “A World Split Apart”

    Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago

    Sophocles, Oedipus Trilogy

    Stowe, Uncle Tom’s Cabin

    Sun Tzu, The Art of War

    Thackeray, Vanity Fair

    Thoreau, Walden

    Tolstoy, War and Peace

    Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian Wars

    Tocqueville, Democracy in America

    Washington, Letters, Speeches, and Writings

    Weaver, Mainspring of Human Progress

    Wister, The Virginian

  145. EmWJ on June 3, 2008 at 12:53 am

    There had to be an easier way to do that…

  146. Jami on June 3, 2008 at 1:16 am

    I was seeing a certain amount of misrepresentation of the lists in question. Sometimes we see what we expect to see instead of what’s really there.

  147. Ray on June 3, 2008 at 1:25 am

    Benson, Covey and Skousen as Classics. Interesting.

    Julie, in defense of the Louis L’Amour books on the youth list: Two of the three that are mentioned – “The Lonesome Gods” and “The Walking Drum” (especially the latter) – really are packed with historical information that is not stressed or even taught in many high school classrooms. The Sackett series also includes a couple that I would have endorsed for my history students. L’Amour wrote pulp western fiction for most of his early career (until he got rich from his writing), but much of his later work is not what you’d expect if you only know his stereotypical stuff.

  148. Jami on June 3, 2008 at 1:42 am

    So speaking of pulling people’s comments out of context, here are the next few sentences of DeMille’s interview.

    ML: And that would be okay?

    OD: I don’t have a problem with that. Let me tell you, I don’t think that that would happen in a setting where good mentoring is taking place. But, if it did happen in a setting where good mentoring was taking place, it would be because both the child and the mentor determined that it was, in fact, the best thing for the child.

    Now, I have a hard time, in our society, picturing a mentor and a child coming to that conclusion, but who am I to say what is right for someone else’s child? I am not sure that such could not ever be the case. I don’t think that would be the case in my family, because my children would have to talk up a storm to convince me. I would not prescribe for somebody else that that would be a problem if good mentoring were taking place.

    Here is a quote from earlier in the interview.

    ML: When you say “homeschool,” you are talking about “school at home,” right? Because there are a lot of people who homeschool because they just don’t want their kids in school, so they call it homeschooling because their kids don’t go off every day.

    OD: If nothing is done, then what’s being done or what’s being modeled could be very negative for the child. It’s still the parent’s role to decide. There are two perspectives: Legal and educational. If you look at it from a legal or governmental perspective, you could say, “Protect that parent’s right and if those parents and those kids all want to be illiterate idiots, that’s their choice.” From an educational perspective, obviously, the negative modeling is not the way to do it.

    It’s not the ideal, my big thing for homeschoolers is, “Let’s improve the quality of homeschooling, let’s not make it reactionary.” When I am out speaking, my whole message is: Let’s not buy into the mediocrity or the reactionary mode of saying, “Well, we’re going to go against something.” Let’s not go against something, let’s be for something, for a superb education.

    I don’t agree with everything he is saying, but he is not saying it doesn’t matter if a child chooses to not learn anything, which is certainly the impression the quote from the post gives.

  149. Jami on June 3, 2008 at 1:45 am

    Delete the first one please.

  150. anonymous on June 3, 2008 at 2:14 am

    I teach a handful of students who are involved with TJE. They have all stemmed from the almost proselyting methods of one individual, and that “proselyting” has occurred within the 3 hour block of meetings. In fact, they have taken some of those principles and begun speaking of them in gospel doctrine. Obviously I have a problem with this, but this is beside the main point that I want to make. There are five students involved in TJE. One of them is an excellent young lady who is well adjusted and literate and intelligent. The other four struggle with reading, are socially very awkward, and simply are incapable of expressing themselves (written or orally). I am not saying that this anecdotal evidence is indicative of the TJE population. I know a young lady who I used to teach who goes to GWC and loves it there. Would I consider her to be “a leader” for the future? Not really. She is too prone to the authoritative tones that she daily hears. However, my experience has been that there definitely seems to be some religious justification for TJE and that is terrifying. It also seems that success rates seem to be the same….therefore can it be considered all that revolutionary? I think that by and large those who succeed would succeed regardless and those who will not would not. I understand that there are some exceptions, but I think that by and large this seems to be the way it pans out.

  151. Seth R. on June 3, 2008 at 2:23 am

    I don’t think putting DeMille’s quotes “in context” really makes him look much better than he did in Julie’s summary.

  152. Jami on June 3, 2008 at 3:12 am

    It’s not really a matter of “looking better.” The whole statement is different in context. I don’t agree with much of it, but is internally consistent when taken as a whole.

  153. TMD on June 3, 2008 at 8:26 am

    With regard to the list of ‘classics,’ four points:
    1. Several of those are not classics. Benson? some skousen guy? Keegan? the Northwest Ordinance? …’The Tao of Physics!!!!!’ …but not Darwin????? Seriously, the person who assembled this list is not particularly well educated. They just picked some books they liked–and others that they thought some people thought were important. The list is particularly weak in the sciences. (and bizarrely over-emphasizes weak and american-centric politics works.) I mean, if you want a classic physics intro, it’s not the tao of Physics…it’s Feynman. (But even then, 40 years old…I’m not sure how much Feynman even would advise using it at this point, were he not dead and all.) Several others might be fine as works of literature, but not as substantive works–for instance, the Decline and Fall, which obviously leaves out the tremendous progress in ancient history which has been made over the past, oh, two and a half centuries.
    2. As someone who teaches several of those at the college level, I would be very concerned about how they are taught, because without someone who has a strong knowledge of the secondary literature, they are ripe for mis-interpretations. In no case is this truer than of Clausewitz, a work near and dear to me but nevertheless one of the most misunderstood works in history (a product of language, translation, internal shifts in argument due to the circumstances of its writing, and it’s incomplete state when published postumously). This point holds generally, and ever moreso when the works are in translation or involve archaic language or conceptualizations.
    3. Beyond the obvious fact that much included here will necessarily be outdated knowledge, There is a fundamental irony about directing a classics list like this at high school students: it is in direct conflict with how most of the people on the list were trained, and did train their own students. These were and in some cases still are scholarly works, directed to people with a fundamental grasp of concepts then current in the state of their field. If you don’t understand the particular context of their writing, then you really don’t understand what they’re writing–or, for that matter, how it might differ today. (I can’t speak for how well Lavosier holds up, for instance–but I have to imagine that it’s not particularly well given that he would have been unaware of many of the basic concepts for understanding chemistry–starting with the atom).

    Great books approaches to learning can be useful, but must not form the totality of one’s education, and even then are non-counter productive only when students are guided through by a real expert, who can answer questions and knows (1) the work inside and out and (2) what’s been said and thought about the topic and the text since it was written.

  154. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 9:10 am

    Jami (#141): I feel that I am aiming at a moving target here; you gave the TJE list for “youth” so I responded to that (since this post is about homeschooling) and you respond with the list for college students. You also did not respond to any of the weaknesses that I pointed out in the K-12 list.

    Ray (#144): Fair enough, as I am a big fan of using historical fiction to flesh out the study of history. But the problem that I have is a balance issue. Again, I’d invite anyone seriously considering TJE to compare that list with any “great books” list or “classics” list that they find by googling so that they can see how grossly inadequate it is. (And TMD makes some good comments on this.) The list Jami gave in #141 is better (but note Ray’s comments–three Skousen titles!), but I’m not seeing what aspects of K-12 TJE prepared the student to take on that list in a meaningful way.

  155. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 9:14 am

    Sources are telling me that DeMille had made claims about his education in the original book and/or that there was plagiarism and threatened lawsuits and so this necessitated (1) a new edition of the book and (2) the “official” GWC history to “revise” and “clarify” matters. Can anyone confirm or deny?

  156. Sean on June 3, 2008 at 10:52 am

    Julie, while I do not homeschool my kids and have never attended GWC, I view this post similar to Jami. Your posts are usually fairer than this. This one seems to me like a response crafted to oppose something that seems dangerous to you, choosing quotes and anecdotes that support your viewpoint. I think many (if not most) people follow this method when debating a point, but I have not thought that about your posts before.

    In particular, I am wondering what your source is for the percentage in the following statement: “While it appears that something like 90% of the TJE leaders and homeschoolers are LDS…”.

  157. Katie Langston on June 3, 2008 at 10:57 am

    Jami, it seems like some are concerned that the reading list is relatively narrow in scope–and seems to stress a particular (conservative) worldview. (Parenthetical note: I’m making no judgments as to the worldview expressed. I may not share it, but it is every parent’s right to teach their children principles they hold dear.)

    So help me understand the significance of the list. In doing some cursory research online, it appears to me that TJEd is more a pedagogical philosophy than a prescribed curriculum, and that as a homeschooling parent, one could easily replace or supplement the *content* of the list with other “classics” of your choosing. For example, you could have your kids read Marx and Darwin, and still be a TJEd homeschooling family. Is that so? Or would you say that the “conservative” worldview is central to the philosophy of TJEd itself?

  158. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 11:10 am

    Sean, there are no statistics available on religious affiliation of TJE leaders or users or I would have cited them. When someone says “it appears” and “something like” they are signaling that they are giving their best guess. I based that guess on TJE leaders after reading the bios on the GWC college page and other TJE websites and the guess on the users based on my six years experience in the homeschooling community in central Texas. (And you’ll note that I also welcomed the additional data from comment #21.) Would my argument change if the actual number were 70 or 80 percent?

    I am concerned that people are overlooking fundamental issues such as “Why is this called “TJE* when it isn’t the education TJ got or advocated?” or “Why are people basing educational choices on a leader whose own background is shaky and bordering on fraudulent?” in favor of arguing percentages with me. If you can point to anything else that I have taken out of context or misstated, I would be happy to respond to it.

  159. Researcher on June 3, 2008 at 11:20 am

    I would like to comment on the list in 141. I will say up front that I respect Jami and what she has to say in a variety of discussions, so I hope this is not taken as a personal attack.

    First, let’s look at the typos. I saw the following and there may be more:

    Bastait for Bastiat
    Neitzsche for Nietzsche (that’s a major typo if you’re at all acquainted with German)
    Copnicus for Copernicus
    Levathan for Leviathan
    Durant, A History of Civilization (Do they mean The Story of Civilization by Will and Ariel Durant– all eleven volumes? You would think that after reading eleven volumes you would have the name of the collection down. I looked in Alibris to see if there were any works listed under History of Civilization and there are but they are miscataloged.)

    Second, what is the purpose of this list? Does slogging through the list lead to a graduate degree? Do the students get to read a sample of these works? (I’ll read Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility and The Virginian and The Declaration of Independence for my degree, thank you very much). What sort of analysis and critical thinking should be done as a result of this list? Are the works placed in their historical context?

    Third, I would like to know why the list does not include Rousseau’s The Social Contract, Machiavelli’s The Prince and Utopia by Thomas More among others. Strange oversight.

    Fourth, let’s look at the 20th century works.

    Benson, “The Proper Role of Government”
    Carson, The American Tradition
    Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People
    Frank, Alas Babylon
    Keegan, History of Warfare
    Martin Luther King, Jr., Collected Speeches
    Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions
    Lewis, Mere Christianity
    Lewis, The Screwtape Letters
    Lewis, The Weight of Glory
    Mises, Human Action
    Orwell, 1984
    Potok, The Chosen
    Skousen, The Five Thousand Year Leap
    Skousen, The Majesty of God’s Law
    Skousen, The Making of America
    Solzhenitsyn, “A World Split Apart”
    Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago
    Thackeray, Vanity Fair
    Weaver, Mainspring of Human Progress
    Wister, The Virginian

    Can I just say: what a weird list. Anyone who has to read Alas Babylon or anything of Skousen has my pity. And from the inclusion of Vanity Fair and the typo on the Durant title, I would suggest that the list may have been compiled by someone who has not read most of the works in question. I would suggest that it seems like a cloak for promoting Skousen with a random smattering of other libertarian or anti-communist tomes and some random heavy-duty political classics and a handful of extremely random works of fiction.

  160. Researcher on June 3, 2008 at 11:23 am

    I would also like to make a note about DeMille. I don’t know anything about him except what I’ve read in this discussion.

    In higher education circles it is not de rigueur to get all of your degrees at the same institution. That is a huge red flag.

  161. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 11:26 am

    “Third, I would like to know why the list does not include Rousseau’s The Social Contract, Machiavelli’s The Prince and Utopia by Thomas More among others. Strange oversight.”

    Doubly strange considering that in DeMille’s book (which I haven’t read–I was scanning pages at Amazon), he writes about “national books” that shape or define each nation and names The Prince for Italy. (!) As an Italian American, I was offended.

    TMD, I am also offended that you take pity on me for having read Alas, Babylon. I read it on the beach when I was about 15. It was a perfect beach book. :)

  162. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 11:34 am

    And for anyone concerned about the LDS-ishness of TJE, note that on researcher’s list of 20th century classics, about 25% of them were written by LDS. (The percentage is worse for the C.S. Lewis-as-crypto-saint crowd.)

  163. Sean on June 3, 2008 at 11:42 am

    Julie, I agree that using those terms softens the confidence in the percentage. In my view the number is not as important as your message, which the number supports. I thought the tone of your message was, “The vast majority of LDS homeschoolers use TJEd. It is suspect, I have many anecdotes to support that, and I’m going to warn you all about it.”

    I don’t want to point to more specifics. I just think it would have been more informative, helpful, and fair for you to give a more balanced viewpoint before posting. In particular, a wider cross-section of user experiences would be helpful before making such a value judgment. You did post the e-mails from Rebecca and her husband, which was helpful. But those seemed to be more of a defense against your thesis. I value your writing on this site, and judging from comments on your posts, I think many others do too. This post seems to me an outlier relative to your usual writing.

  164. Edje on June 3, 2008 at 11:48 am

    155, 157: More’s _Utopia_ and Machiavelli’s _The Prince_ are both on the list in 141. Are we talking about a different list?

  165. Ardis Parshall on June 3, 2008 at 12:04 pm

    To those who don’t think Julie has been fair in this post:

    I had never heard of TJE before this post so obviously my impression comes from the discussion here. I have, however, read carefully through all the documents Julie links to, including the GWC website and the authoritative history.

    There is a lot of noble language about what such an education will mean to me and mine, and a great many endorsements by satisfied students, and a reverent history of the founder’s quest — and all these TJE/GWC-produced materials remind me of nothing so much as a late-night infomercial. It’s all promise, and nothing to evaluate.

    I understand that the seminars and printed materials are the place for the full program to be laid out in detail. But what I long for is something solid, a sample of what TJE is, in order to evaluate it on its own merits, apart from this post.

    Can you please point me to a single online essay by DeMille or another TJE theorist on, say, “Principles I have learned from Classic X” or “Three Ideas from Book Q and How to Implement Them in Public Service” — just about anything will do, as long as it demonstrates that DeMille (or someone else who has followed his program closely) has actually read, understood, benefited by, and implemented some key idea? Not just vague statements about how the classics in general lead to loyalty and leadership and other grand-but-undefined virtuous results, but a specific lesson or insight drawn from a specific work, such as I would expect a student at GWC could write as a followup to a seminar on any one of the TJE-praised classics?

    I don’t want glowing advertising; I want a tiny taste of the product itself.

  166. Researcher on June 3, 2008 at 12:07 pm

    #161. Oh my goodness, you’re right. They are on the list. How embarrassing. (How embarrassing for them.) I looked under the “M”s and didn’t see them there. The problem is that they listed “Martin Luther King, Jr., Collected Speeches” instead of listing him as “King, Collected Speeches,” like they did every other author and that’s where I looked for the other “M”s.

    And since King came up, I would like to make a comment about the inclusion of his “Collected Speeches.” Why include King and not Frederick Douglass, WEB DuBois and Booker T. Washington? It seems like a simple nod to political correctness without any real thought behind it.

  167. kevinf on June 3, 2008 at 12:28 pm

    I highly respect Julie and her commitment to home schooling, and understand her concerns that the TJed discussed here might have a negative influence on all home schoolers. I’ve read a lot of the links, and looked over the bios and history of the folks involved at GWC, and I have had an interesting reaction. This doesn’t remind me of MLM schemes as much as it resembles the Wade Cook Financial meltdown of a few years ago. You have a charismatic visionary at its head, appeals to anyone that “you too can do this”, and management/faculty not drawn so much for their expertise in their fields as much as their zeal for the program and loyalty to the leader. Not to mention the testimonial aspect of the followers.

    I can look at the reading lists, and discover obvious things that I would have like to have read, and also see many things here that are rather suspect or of dubious value. I can also name a large number of books that have had a great impact on me, that are not there.

    There are aspects of mentoring that are attractive as well. But at its heart, this appears to be a bankrupt scheme, as there seems to be very little understanding on the part of the mentors and faculty members on basic education theory and implementation, just as with Wade Cook’s empire not having a strong expertise in real financial and market theory. I believe Wade Cook was/is an honorable man, just way out of his depth, lucky in some parts of his life, and captivated by entrepreneurial zeal. It appears that DeMille might be someone cut from the same cloth, running down the same path, and unintentionally pulling some innocent victims along with him.

    While I am a firm supporter of public education, I recognize that children all learn in different ways, and that traditional public schools may not meet the needs of all students, and all families. Just as public education is not inherently bad, but some schools are, this TJed is probably not inherently bad either, but terribly misguided, and without the sort of oversight and correction that comes with answering to someone other than a visionary founder.

    Thanks, Julie, for inviting this discussion.

  168. Jami on June 3, 2008 at 12:37 pm

    Researcher,
    I have a great deal of respect for you as well. It was the dead of night when I cut and pasted the list from the site I had link earlier. I spent no time at all proofing the list other than just a quick check that it was in fact the same list out of DeMille’s book.

    Julie, I am really not sure how to respond. If I point out each error in your post, it can take the two of us to a very ugly place. It has been obvious to me for a long time that we view the education of children differently. I’m good with that. I would never say that your view is an embarrassment to the LDS community and to the homeschooling community, even with a disclaimer.

  169. Ray on June 3, 2008 at 12:41 pm

    164 comments, and I have stayed out of it in any truly substantive way. Frankly, I didn’t want to over-criticize something about which I know little.

    I have direct experience dealing with good, educationally visionary people. They don’t always end well, and their ideas – even the truly visionary ones – often fall short when implemented in the real world. After having looked at the links everyone has provided, overall, kevinf just summarized my own view perfectly.

  170. Jami on June 3, 2008 at 12:46 pm

    Here is the list you must have been referencing earlier, Julie. All lists are beginning points. If you stop reading when you get to the end of the list you’ve missed the point. (Oh and Trumpet of the Swans is a really bad book. Really.)

    Classics List for Children and Youth

    Source: Appendix B of Oliver Van DeMille’s

    A Thomas Jefferson Education:

    Teaching a New Generation of Leaders for the Twenty-First Century, ©2000.

    Classics to Read to Young Children
    Classics for you to read aloud to young children.

    Aesop’s Fables – Aesop

    Andersen’s Fairy Tales – Hans Christian Anderson

    Beauty and the Beast
    The Bible

    The Blind Men and the Elephant
    “Casey at Bat”

    Charlotte’s Web – E. B. White

    Chicken Little
    A Christmas Carol – Charles Dickens

    Cinderella
    Dinotopia series – James Gurney

    Dr. Seuss series

    The Emperor’s New Clothes
    The Fourth Wise Man
    The Gift of the Magi – Carol Lynn Pearson

    The Giving Tree
    “God Save the Flag”

    Goldilocks and the Three Bears
    The Goose That Laid the Golden Egg
    Grimm’s Fairy Tales – Wilhelm & Jacob Grimm

    “The Highwayman”

    Hansel and Gretel

    Jack and the Beanstalk

    Just So Stories – Rudyard Kipling

    The Legend of Sleepy Hollow
    “Lincoln, The Man of the People”

    “Little Boy Blue”

    The Little Engine that Could
    The Little House on the Prairie series – Laura Ingalls Wilder

    The Little Red Hen
    The McGuffey Readers

    Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes

    “Paul Revere’s Ride”

    Peter Pan – J. M. Barrie

    Peter Rabbit – Beatrix Potter

    The Pied Piper of Hamlin
    Pinocchio, The Adventures of – Carlo Colladi

    Pollyanna – Eleanor H. Porter

    The Princess and the Pea
    Puss-in-Boots

    Rapunzel

    Riki Tiki Tavi

    Rip Van Winkle
    Robin Hood, The Merry Adventures of – Howard Pyle

    Rumpelstiltskin
    Sleeping Beauty

    The Song of Hiawatha

    Snow White
    Tales of the Arabian Nights

    The Three Billy Goats Gruff

    The Three Little Pigs

    The Ugly Duckling

    Tom Thumb

    “Twas the Night Before Christmas”

    The Wind in the Willows – Kenneth Grahame

    Winnie-the-Pooh series – A. A. Milne

    The Wonderful Wizard of Oz – Frank Baum

    Classics for Youth

    For older youth to read and discuss with their mentors.

    Alice in Wonderland – Lewis Carroll

    Animal Farm

    Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl

    The Anne of Green Gables series – L. M. Montgomery

    The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
    “Battle Hymn of the Republic”

    Ben Hur: A Tale of Christ – Lew Wallace

    The Bible

    Brighty of the Grand Canyon

    Black Beauty – Anna Sewell

    The Black Stallion series – Walter Farley

    The Chronicles of Narnia series – C. S. Lewis

    The Collected Verse of Edgar A Guest
    “Concord Hymn”

    A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court – Samuel Clemmens

    The Constitution of the United States

    David Copperfield

    Davy Crockett Legends – Irwin Shapiro

    The Declaration of Independence

    The Deerslayer
    Don Quixote de la Mancha – Miguel De Cervantes

    Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
    The Dred Scott Decision

    The Education of Henry Adams

    Eight Cousins

    Emily Post’s Etiquette

    Ender’s Game

    “In Flanders Fields”

    Flatland
    The Foundation series

    Frankenstein
    “The Gettysburg Address”

    “Give Me Liberty or Give Me Death”

    The Great Brain series

    Gulliver’s Travels – Jonathan Swift

    Hamilton’s Mythology
    Hamlet
    Heidi – Johanna Spry

    The Hiding Place – Corrie Ten Boom

    History Reborn
    Huckleberry Finn, The Adventures of – Mark Twain

    “I Have a Dream”

    Ivanhoe – Walter Scott

    The Hobbit – J. R. R. Tolkien

    Island of the Blue Dolphins – Scott O’Dell

    Joan of Arc – Mark Twain

    Jo’s Boys – Louisa May Alcott

    A Journey to the Center of the Earth – Jules Verne

    Julius Caesar (Shakespeare)

    The Jungle Book
    King Arthur and the Round Table – Thomas Malory

    Laddie – Gene Stratton Porter

    The Last of the Mohicans – James Cooper

    “Let America be America Again”

    The Lincoln-Douglas Debates

    The Little Britches series

    Little Lord Fauntleroy – Frances Hodgson Burnett

    Little Men – Louisa May Alcott

    Little Women – Louisa May Alcott

    The Lonesome Gods
    Lord of the Rings series

    “The Man with the Hoe”

    Mathmaticians are People, Too (2 volumes)

    Moby Dick

    Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass

    National Velvet

    Noah Webster’s Original 1828 Dictionary

    North to Freedom
    “O Captain! My Captain!”

    “Old Ironsides”

    Old Yeller – Fred Gipson

    Oliver Twist – Charles Dickens

    On Numbers
    Paul Bunyan – Esther Sheperd

    The Phantom Tollbooth
    “The Present Crisis”

    “The Road Not Taken”

    The Real Benjamin Franklin

    The Real George Washington

    The Real Thomas Jefferson

    The Robe
    Robinson Crusoe – Daniel DeFoe

    Romeo and Juliet – Shakespeare

    The Sackett series

    The Saxon Math series

    The Secret Garden – Francess Hodgson Burnett

    Shipwrecked

    Soldiers, Statesmen, and Heroes

    Sonnets of Shakespeare

    Spiritual Lives of the Great Composers

    Stuart Little – E. B. White

    The Summer of the Monkeys – Wilson Rawls

    The Swiss Family Robinson – Johaan Wyss

    Tom Sawyer, The Adventures of – Mark Twain

    Treasure Island – Robert Louis Stevenson

    The Trumpet of the Swans – E. B. White

    “Ulysses”

    The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle
    The Walking Drum

    Where the Red Fern Grows – Wilson Rawls

    White Fang – Jack London

    William Tell
    The Yearling – Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

  171. Researcher on June 3, 2008 at 12:51 pm

    The other type of discussion I’ve seen raise this kind of ire was a discussion of toilet training theories.

    What is it about children and the theories of their training that raises so much emotion? And this discussion has only barely touched on the homeschooling vs. public schooling debate.

    I will say that we looked heavily into homeschooling and the different methods when our children were younger. I’m somewhat an odd duck among our colleagues (in and out of the church) because I homeschool my kids for preschool.

    The major thing that has prevented us (I’ll be honest and say “prevented me” since I would have 95 percent of the work) is my energy level. I just don’t have that much energy to have to continually assert myself as the authority.

    I have a great deal of respect for anyone who does have that level of emotional and physical and mental energy to be able to deal with their own children in that way, whatever the theory of education, as long as they’re providing at least as rounded of an eduation as the public schools (not too difficult a feat).

  172. Jami on June 3, 2008 at 1:03 pm

    Ardis, I think of GWC as a grand colloquium, a very expensive enrichment activity. Not my thing.

    Would a book like this ( http://www.amazon.com/Thomas-Jefferson-Education-Home-Companion/dp/0967124638/ref=pd_bbs_sr_2?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1212511965&sr=8-2 ) help you understand how this philosophy plays out in real life?

    By the way, the tje.org link above is not an official site. It is a single groups’ support site, not associated with OD or GWE. I think that TJE may play out a bit like Maria Montessori’s theories which have no copyright and are used in a bunch of very different ways in different schools.

  173. Researcher on June 3, 2008 at 1:13 pm

    Thanks for posting the kids’ reading list. That is also very interesting.

    Question #1. What is “The Gift of the Magi – Carol Lynn Pearson”? I see that she wrote something called “The Modern Magi.” Do they mean “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry?

    Question #2. After a quick look, except for Ender’s Game, The Giving Tree, The Foundation series (Asimov), Dinotopia series (Gurney) and L’Amour, I don’t see anything “modern.” (And Asimov and L’Amour hardly count as modern anymore.) This list of children’s literature seemed to crash to earth about the time that Sputnik left it.

    Question #3. Why can they not give a nod to the Newbery books? It’s a very easy way to keep up with excellent contemporary children’s literature. Another strange oversight.

    Question #4. Would any of you recommend Saxon math? We need to do a little bit of algebra catch-up with one of our kids over the summer. (Blatant threadjack.)

  174. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 1:20 pm

    Researcher, Saxon is very popular with homeschoolers and seems well respected. (I have no personal experience with it–we use Horizons which is only K-6.) While Teaching Textbooks has its detractors, many others like it because of its format. Sorry I can’t tell you more but we aren’t there yet. (I do plan on using TT.)

  175. Ardis Parshall on June 3, 2008 at 1:23 pm

    Jami, I’d read it if it were handy, but I’m not willing to pay $22 plus s/h to be sure I’ve given fair thought to an issue that doesn’t have much chance of a practical application in my life (I have no children to homeschool, and follow another program of self-education). DeMille hasn’t given any speeches demonstrating how some classic has affected his life, that might be on the web somewhere? No essay contents for which students won scholarships, with the essays posted?

  176. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 1:26 pm

    Ardis, I’ve been hunting, too. I think the material is hard to find because their goal is to sell it to support GWC, as I explained in the post. (And those outside of the homeschooling world need to understand how bizarre this is: go to the website for any other curriculum or methodology and you will be inundated with samples and ideas and handouts and lesson plans and overviews and . . . .) The closest that I have been able to find would be the GWC hour that EmWJ linked to:

    http://www.gwc.edu/misc/radio/

  177. kevinf on June 3, 2008 at 1:28 pm

    On the young adult list, is that Ulysses the James Joyce Ulysses? Having read it myself as the sole text of a class on Joyce in college, I agree that it should be read with a mentor. Only problem is that I didn’t see a person on the faculty/mentor list that would be remotely qualified to do so. (I fully expect that it’s not the Joyce Ulysses, BTW!)

    Also, I’ve read James Fenimore Cooper, and I wouldn’t want to wish that on anyone. War and Peace is more accessible. Go see the movies. And why not Brown vs. Board of Education, over the Dred Scott decision?

    What I am saying is that any reading list is extremely subjective, and anyone can find fault with any of it pretty easily. I’m a little wary of such an emphasis on 19th Century literature over important 20th Century writers, or earlier works. But that’s me. I’m not sure that the book lists are all that valuable in this discussion. It looks like the program, if followed faithfully, is likely to produce people well qualified to live and contribute in the 1860′s, but last I looked, we are now in the 21st Century.

  178. Jami on June 3, 2008 at 1:29 pm

    Again, it was a cut and paste. My book is loaned out.

    Saxon is very thorough, with a TON of practice. I would not use it as a catch-up unless you just use the first chapters of the next book up. Even then they mix Geometry and Algebra in their books. And they are pricey.

  179. Jami on June 3, 2008 at 1:34 pm

    Ardis you can peek inside at Amazon. If I end up getting it, I’ll send it your way afterwards. :) Must go.

  180. Bro. Jones on June 3, 2008 at 1:42 pm

    #170: I did Saxon math in middle school. The good news is that he constantly reviews concepts in each lesson, which is great for reinforcement. (That is, you’ll have math concepts from Lesson 1 show up in Lessons 2-24.) The bad news is that his explanations aren’t any better than any other textbook, so it’s exceptionally reliant on the teacher to explain things. Otherwise, if the student doesn’t get something the first time (say, the Pythagorean theorem), then she keeps getting hit with it for the next two dozen lessons.

    When I had a great math teacher in 8th grade, I really appreciated the chance to constantly review topics in Saxon. When I had an awful teacher in 7th and 9th grades, it was sheer torture and I was completely unable to bring up my grades.

  181. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 1:45 pm

    All:

    someone familiar with TJE has said that DeMille lied about his credentials in the first edition of TJE. She provides this quote:

    ———————————————
    From the 2000 edition of A Thomas Jefferson Education
    chapter 1, subheading Finding a Mentor, page 22:

    Ten years ago I asked the same question. Having graduated with nearly straight A’s from both high school and a respected university, I faced a dilemma. I had scholarships, career opportunities, and ‘great expectations” (though I didn’t know what that meant at the time), but I knew something that none of my professors or academic counselors seemed to understand: I didn’t have an education. I had impressive grades, and a prestigious diploma and some skills and talents, but I really didn’t have an education – and I knew it.

    ———————————————-

    I don’t have that edition of the book, but that story is clearly not the same as that in the official GWC history, where he dropped out of BYU. Can anyone verify that the first edition said that?

  182. Researcher on June 3, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    #174 I wondered about Ulysses too! Perhaps a highly precocious high schooler would read Joyce on a dare, but it’s hardly something that a conservative institution should recommend for kids. Maybe they mean the poem by Tennyson or HMS Ulysses by Alistair MacLean or Homer’s Odyssey or the Iliad?

    I read James Fenimore Cooper while I was in junior high school and loved it. I don’t think I would go back to it as an adult, while I have gone back and read War and Peace a couple of times. (I have a major crush on Pierre Bezukhov).

  183. Rebecca Liddle Smith on June 3, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    This is my final post. I only regret that I didn’t bow out earlier. I hope my thoughts will help someone who may be susceptible to this kind of vitriol.

    Rebecca

    >Sources are telling me that DeMille had made claims about his education in the original book and/or that there was plagiarism and threatened lawsuits and so this necessitated (1) a new edition of the book and (2) the “official” GWC history to “revise” and “clarify” matters. Can anyone confirm or deny?

    Why would you give credence to this kind of hearsay? Your sources should be able to support their claim, not leave it for others to confirm or deny.

    I owned the old book and then gave it to Tim Lambert (THSC President) last year. His familiarity with legal issues would put him in a great position to offer an opinion. I am fairly certain that the only change made in the second edition was the addition of the first chapter or two, not written when the first was published. Nothing was removed.

    >Why are people basing educational choices on a leader whose own background is shaky and bordering on fraudulent?”

    I don’t know about others, but I am following a set of principles, not a person. I’m oversimplifying here, but the leader’s main claim is “you are the expert on your own family”. I’m familiar with his works and example. Your allegations demonstrate no understanding of the man whatsoever.

    >So help me understand the significance of the list. In doing some cursory research online, it appears to me that TJEd is more a pedagogical philosophy than a prescribed curriculum, and that as a homeschooling parent, one could easily replace or supplement the *content* of the list with other “classics” of your choosing. For example, you could have your kids read Marx and Darwin, and still be a TJEd homeschooling family. Is that so? Or would you say that the “conservative” worldview is central to the philosophy of TJEd itself?

    Your assertion is correct. It is a philosophy, not a curriculum. The book list inserted is indicative of what DeMille would read, and recommends personally. He has stated repeatedly, however, that his classics don’t necessarily represent those of other people. And regardless of what anyone says to the contrary, there is no universally understood list of classics. Especially if you contrast a classic by Eastern Civilization terms with the Western. Oliver DeMille has never ever said, “Duplicate what I am doing”. In the seminars I’ve heard him present, he has asserted, above all else (as is consistent with the larger excerpt from his interview included on this blog), the need for a homeschooling parent learn to think for himself.

    That’s the thing about principles. They are applied differently from one person to the next. The whole philosophy simply wouldn’t fair well (as it has in both evangelical and secular circles) in the greater population if he promoted an emulation of his particular world view.

    Julie is generous towards unschoolers that are doing a good job of home educating their children, and yet she can’t extent the same tolerance for a philosophy that actually imposes more homeschooling structure on a family, and intrinsically places a higher value on the classics. She also has an acute lack of exposure to TJEd families, and therefore can’t assess their success.

    >“If you want your son to play the piano, it is good to expose him to music. This may give him a feel for it and help greatly in his learning. But this is not enough. There is the practice and the memorization and the practice and the practice and the practice before he can play it well.

    >If you want your daughter to learn a language, expose her to those who speak it. She may get a feel for the language, even pick up many words. But this is not enough. She must memorize grammar and vocabulary. She must practice pronunciation. There is rote learning without which she will never speak or write the language fluently.

    >So it is with the gospel. One may have a feel for it. But some time one must learn the doctrine. Here, too, rote learning, practice, memorization, reading, listening, discussion, all become essential. There is no royal road to learning.

    >The Church can help parents because this kind of learning is effectively given in a classroom setting. So we have seminaries, institutes, religion classes; there are priesthood, Sunday School, and auxiliary classes. The curriculum for all of them centers in the scriptures and the history of the Church. Spiritual development is tied very closely to a knowledge of the scriptures, where the doctrines are found. ”

    >“Elective courses are being reduced in number, and they must be carefully selected. Without guidance, your student may choose another elective instead of seminary, or another course instead of an institute class. That would surely be a mistake. It would be like adding one more brick to the house of knowledge when there is little mortar to hold it all together. Parents, encourage, even insist, that your students register for seminary or institute. “

    Thank you for including the rest of his talk. EVERYTHING he said is in keeping with TJEd.
    By the way, the Packer quote was part of Dr. Flinders’ quote, which he places in that context, not me. It is listed under his section: “Learning Theory: The Basic Premise.” I highly recommend his book, as it is a well-respected, tightly reasoned/researched treatise on why agency is the best premise for education.

    As a devout LDS parent, I will expect that my children go to seminary and institute. Here’s the thing. My parents never had to actively encourage or insist upon it for me, or any of my other 10 siblings. Our home was imbued with a love of the gospel. That is the point of “Inspire not Require”. You lead out as parents with a great example, nurture your children in a home where the Spirit is comfortable, and let the children choose to pursue education freely. Where you and I disagree, is the level of compulsion necessary for the process to succeed. Perhaps we are at an impasse, simply because our families have different needs. I agree to stop telling you to use less compulsion with your children if you will agree to stop telling me I need more of it.

    Of course there is no easy way to attain education. I’ve already asserted that. I agree that rote learning, memorization, and structure all become necessary in the educational process (rote defined: habitual, routine, mechanical). It simply isn’t necessary to push a pre-defined curriculum. No child, in my opinion, will be permanently harmed by a loving, educationally- involved parent who allows him to wait on his reading until he feels ready.

    >The applicable Texas law states that homeschooled children must study “reading, spelling, grammar, math and a course in good citizenship.”

    You can’t cry illegal without acknowledging that no set curricula — public, private, or home — guarantees that a child will comply with the Texas homeschool law (if it indeed uses the phrase “must study”, as you say.

    My son asked me to teach him to read at age 7. What you fail to believe is that a child WILL choose to submit himself to this process, and decide that reading (along with many other skills) is important. Nothing I say will convince you otherwise. So for a final summary here: under the influence of a good mentor, when the love of learning is firmly established, I believe that the basic skills set will be acquired. And it will be acquired much more quickly when it hasn’t been forced on them too early.

    That doesn’t mean we don’t also give our children a strong dose of “where much is given, much is required”. It’s a divine truth. We try to inspire that sense in their hearts and minds by modeling an awareness that we are exceedingly blessed. We try to live a life that serves the greater good. We nurture an environment that fosters self-inquiry. We instill a sense of wonder that God will guide us in the process.

  184. Alison Moore Smith on June 3, 2008 at 2:48 pm

    Julie, I could kiss you (if I was into that kind of thing). The Pied Piper element of TJED makes me absolutely crazy.

    Last week I spoke at a homeschooling convention in Virginia. The core of the convention was preceded by an entire day devoted to TJED, so I knew I was surrounded and outnumbered. At dinner my first night there, someone asked about TJED. I kept my mouth shut until someone SPECIFICALLY asked my opinion.

    “You don’t want to know my opinion about it.”

    They insisted they did and I gave it. Surprisingly, in the particular company I was in, not only was what I said accepted, but it pretty much echoed almost everyone there.

    This is what I find most places. If just ONE person will speak up about their misgivings, you’ll find a whole slew of others who agree but who usually won’t speak up.

    “Inspire, not require” is the most idiotic of the elements IMO and I actually have about three pages in my book devoted to that silly couplet. “You, not them” is right up there. Mostly because the couplets don’t remotely represent what they are supposed to mean and/or what TJED followers actually DO.

    As for DeMille. Boy, I could go on and on about that. I lived for ten years in Boca Raton, which is right by Coral Ridge. CRBU (and the sponsoring Coral Ridge Ministry) is probably the single most anti-Mormon group I’ve ever personally encountered. They ran the most dishonest, horrid radio campaigns all the time in South Florida.

    One of their programs was a half hour long interview with two evangelicals questioning a member on doctrinal issues. The member couldn’t address a SINGLE point and eventually acquiesced to the idea that Mormons are cultists.

    I was beside myself. Who was this clueless Mormon without a basic understanding of doctrine? I didn’t recognize him (it’s a decently close knit community down there) and he certainly wasn’t a leader or remotely well-read.

    During the last 15 seconds of the show, they read the speedy disclaimer. It wasn’t a member and it wasn’t an interview. It was a “simulated interview” with a written script and a cast of anti-Mormons.

    Your background info was also very enlightening. I conversed with one of the administrators years ago. (A man named Shannon, if I remember correctly. I think I still have the emails somewhere.) At that time DeMille took a different tack. He called himself “Dr. DeMille,” using the title to elevate his credentials. He did this all while constantly impugning “conveyor belt education” as meaningless. **AND** the PhD he then claimed was an HONORARY DOCTORATE!

    I haven’t looked lately, but back then the “faculty” consisted mostly of inbred “professors.”

    Anyway, many thanks for the research and taking time to write all this out. I will be forever pointing people to your post.

  185. Sara R on June 3, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    I would like to note that one shouldn’t let children listen to “Peter Pan” on audio book if one doesn’t want to have to discuss the meaning of “orgy.” That is all.

  186. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 2:56 pm

    Here are some more thoughts on TJE from people who have emailed me (reprinted with permission). These aren’t my words or ideas or experiences–I am just passing them on.

    “In the seminars one of the phrases used is “trust the process”.
    Parents are encouraged to go against their better judgement
    and “trust the process” – which really means trust Oliver DeMille and
    his theory of education.”

    “Unfortunately it turns out that DeMille, while a very pleasant
    fellow, has not exactly been honest with those of us who have trusted
    him. His education was not as he made it out to be in the original
    tjed book and on the George Wythe website. When this came to light a
    new edition of the book was pubished, and his old biography was
    removed from the web. At a local tjed meeting we were given
    a ‘revisionist history’ of DeMille’s education. To make a long story
    short, he lied about his education and besides the byu degree, which
    he eventually did receive (althought not when he said in the original
    book), most of his education was from diploma mills or his own
    college. I researched the schools he listed and as is typical with
    diploma mills they use the name of familiar places, but are not the
    school you think they are.”

    “Now, I know this all sounds bad, but I don’t think it’s done
    maliciously. I really believe DeMille was excited when he began to
    learn of education outside of the public school system, and wanted
    other people to know about it also. But, there is a serious lack of
    education and scholarship in his own life, which he then spreads
    among other uneducated people.”

    “What I really want to share with you is what I’ve seen as a result of
    tjed among the homeschoolers in our co-op. We have parents who have
    degrees from George Wythe(distance learning), whose children have
    attended George Wythe, and have been extremely active in the tjed
    movement from the beginning. We are seeing the results of a tjed
    education, and it’s not pretty. We have kids who were allowed to do
    whatever they wanted (most never really developed a love of learning)
    and are not prepared for any kind of real academics. What might sound
    good in theory is does not work in real life. In one local tjed
    meeting we were told about a boy who did nothing but study [one specific animal]
    for two years and that was okay! We have families in which the moms
    have been so busy with “you not them” that their children have
    received no education whatsoever. When I’ve taught in our co-op the
    high schoolers had no tools at their disposal for doing high school
    level work. It was very sad. This year as some of our older
    students face graduation and reality, and a deep regret for ‘trusting
    the process’ has settled over some of our parents. ”

    “There is much about tjed that is only available from the seminar, you
    will never learn from the books. Being in a tjed seminar is a lot
    like a cross between an amway meeting and a mormon missionary
    lesson. They are very convincing, and they give you lots of ‘proof’
    why what they say is correct. There’s a chameleon like characteristic
    of make tjed apply to whatever you are doing.”

    “If you go to the George Wythe Bookstore, then to the Audio section, on that first page of audio cds are some of the basic principles of tjed that are taught in the seminars. That would be the best way to really understand tjed, but it would be expensive. But, these would really give you the real ideas that are behind tjed that are not talked about in the books. The book just lures you in.”

    “I’m not sure how to verbalize it, but there is something completely different about actually attending a seminar that allows you to get a real feel of the underpinnings and assumptions. ”

    “Yes, I’m frustrated and disappointed at a lot of it, and I think it’s only fair that people should know that they shouldn’t just ‘trust the process’, but I just want to clarify that it hasn’t been some kind of horrible experience for us personally. Probably the worst part for us has been peer influence of nonacademic students.”

    “I don’t use the ‘inspire not require’ principle, and I think that’s at the heart of all the problems. In fact, many of our die-hard tjeders have now completely turned their back on this principle because of seeing the results in the children. None of the rest of it – the “diploma mill DeMille”, the money making, the lack of scholarship, the horror stories from GWC – none of it is really as important as what happens in the home with the children and how it affects their education and future.”

    “Here’s an example of an unspoken rule that you might find enlightening. Years ago, before I met the tjed co-op we’re in now, I originally heard about tjed through some of my charter school friends. We were all impressed with the ideas presented in the tjed book. One father in the co-op was so impressed he quit his six figure a year job, and opened a local mentored learning center! That didn’t last long before he went back to his job. But, other parents were trying to find mentors for their children, and were calling GWC and Wings of Eagles, signing up themselves and their children for mentors. Well, the problem was, the mentors were really flaky! They tried to pursue this, but the mentors acted as if they didn’t care, wouldn’t call at the appointed times, weren’t returning phone calls, etc… Most of these parents were turned off and quit trying to do tjed. Fast forward a few years…..I’m in this tjed co-op, and I find out that the
    ‘unspoken rule’ is that some mentors won’t mentor you unless you’ve bugged them to death and ‘proved’ to them that you really want to be mentored! I almost laughed outloud! Here these poor parents who couldn’t get mentors just weren’t being rude enough!”

    “There is actually something about this in the article I read yesterday (Core and Love of Learning: A Recipe for Success). It’s ingredient #31, The Academic “No”:

    In the Oriental tradition the great master required new applicants to wait for long periods of time to see him (a tradition purposefully copied by modern Western medicine, believe it or not). Similarly, in the Western world the master charged huge amounts of money to discourage those who weren’t really serious (the medical profession seems to have mastered this one also). When you really need the doctor or any other type of mentor, you are willing to both wait and pay – a testament to the value of their expertise. Those who push past the “no”, who persist, are much more likely to be really ready.”

    “And that’s nothing compared to the discussion of how “Rome became the ruler of the world as long as she followed Alexander’s example and only marched south, attacking nations with milder climates.” The British and French who still drive on highways laid over Roman roads would no doubt have something to say about this!”

    “There’s one more core thing to help you understand tjed. I don’t remember it exactly, but DeMille had a vision ( a very lds thing, which explains why ceratin lds follow him like a prophet). I could be wrong, but it seems like it was late at night, when he was taking out the trash. He had a vision of some kind of world conference, a UN type of thing, and some horrible decision was going to be made that was going to affect the whole world. There was just one person, who had the right education, that stood up, made a difference, and saved the world. I’m not sure if this is suppose to be DeMille, or someone he’s trained. It’s all told in a very reverent manner, with tears. It’s just like an lds testimony meeting. It’s mysterious and holy for those who believe it. So, for some people, their child is the one who might save the world.”

    “One of the faults with tjed as I see it, is that there was supposedly this simple idea – get off the conveyor belt and get a real literary education. Read, discuss, and write – pretty simple. But, the more you study, the more complicated it gets. Even the phases (core, love of learning, scholar, and depth) are now broken down into smaller phases such as practice scholar, apprentice scholar, self-directed scholar. They are constantly coming up with new ideas to sell, that you have to know to be a ‘real tjeder’.”

  187. Katie Langston on June 3, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    Rebecca, thanks for answering my question regarding the worldview. I appreciate your input and wish you the best as you work to educate your children. For what it’s worth, it sounds to me like you’re doing a great job and that TJEd has been extremely beneficial for you and your family. I think it’s disrespectful and more than a little presumptious for anyone to attempt to undermine that. Best of luck to you.

  188. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 3:09 pm

    A response to #180:

    “Why would you give credence to this kind of hearsay?”

    There is a difference between giving credence and asking if it is true. I am asking if it is true. Is it true?

    “Your allegations demonstrate no understanding of the man whatsoever.”

    Which allegations? If you can point me to any statement in the original post about his background that can’t be found in the official history of GWC, I will cheerfully correct it. (Again, I found details about LaSalle’s closure elsewhere, but the fact of its closure is in GWCH.)

    “And regardless of what anyone says to the contrary, there is no universally understood list of classics.”

    This is correct. But there is a universal understanding of the term “classic” and “a life-changing book for you” is not a part of it.

    “She also has an acute lack of exposure to TJEd families, and therefore can’t assess their success.”

    What is your evidence for this? You spent two hours in a room with me and a dozen other women once and exchanged a few emails; you have no idea who my homeschooling contacts are in real life and/or what I know about them, their families, and what they do.

    “It simply isn’t necessary to push a pre-defined curriculum. No child, in my opinion, will be permanently harmed by a loving, educationally- involved parent who allows him to wait on his reading until he feels ready.”

    Unless, of course, the state of Texas finds out about it and charges the parent for violating the law (Texas law requires that reading be taught in “a bona fide manner.”) and the parent goes to jail, loses custody of the child, and/or is forced to put a non-reading 12-year-old into a public school. That might possibly harm the child.

    “You can’t cry illegal without acknowledging that no set curricula — public, private, or home — guarantees that a child will comply with the Texas homeschool law (if it indeed uses the phrase “must study”, as you say.”

    You’ll need to explain this more–of course the use of certain curricula would guarantee that a child is in compliance.

    “What you fail to believe is that a child WILL choose to submit himself to this process, and decide that reading (along with many other skills) is important.”

    Bingo. If I’m wrong, my kid grumbles about his forced handwriting worksheet but learns how to form letters properly anyway. If you are wrong, you end up with a teenager who can’t read or write. That’s a crazy risk to take.

  189. Sara R on June 3, 2008 at 3:12 pm

    #151 and #180 re: plagiarism:

    The plagiarism that bothered me in A Thomas Jefferson Education was that he didn’t credit any other authors who had already written about modern classical education and great books study. Every other book about classical education has at least quoted “The Lost Tools of Learning” by Dorothy Sayers. Not TJEd. The Well-Trained Mind was published before TJEd, but it’s not credited. For other modern interpretations of classical education, see this Wikipedia link.

    So either he really did invent the idea himself–which is doubtful, especially if he’s as well-read as he’s claiming–or he used these ideas without crediting the sources, which is plagiarism.

    It’s been about 5 years since I borrowed the original book, and I never read the TJEd Companion. I recall thinking that the original book needed a good copy editor.

  190. Zeratul on June 3, 2008 at 3:15 pm

    you people really have a nice flame war going. anyone who says anything pro-tje or gwc is immediately shot down. its like saying something positive about Microsoft in an apple fanboy forum. arguing with fanboys is never productive, like a saying i\’ve heard, \”don\’t argue with idiots, they will bring you down to their level and beat you with experience.\”

    pro and anti tje and gwc commentors are not going to have their opinions changed by a fiery rant from the opposing side. almost every comment here is/has been an exercise in futility. these various rants can easily continue for weeks without much being accomplished.

    my vote is for everyone to quit the thread. if it was in a forum i would recommend it to be locked by a moderator. ceaseless flaming never accomplishes anything.

    feel free to flame me, ban me, or otherwise abuse this comment. i wont be back.

    Z13 ¤

  191. Katie Langston on June 3, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    “There is a difference between giving credence and asking if it is true.”

    Sure there’s a difference. But still, if you’re going to err, shouldn’t you err on the side of caution? The fact is, merely raising the question can be damaging to a reputation, and this is someone’s name we’re talking about here. I have no opinion one way or the other about TJEd (never studied it), and don’t plan to homeschool my kids or send them to GWC by any stretch of the imagination, but I do think it’s unseemly to post unsubstantiated rumors about someone in a public forum without first making sure you’re right.

  192. Sara R on June 3, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    From #183: “There is much about tjed that is only available from the seminar, you
    will never learn from the books….If you go to the George Wythe Bookstore…audio cds are some of the basic principles of tjed that are taught in the seminars. That would be the best way to really understand tjed, but it would be expensive. But, these would really give you the real ideas that are behind tjed that are not talked about in the books. The book just lures you in.”

    This was my other problem with TJEd. The book did not contain specifics. What I got from it was “use classics!” and “use mentors!” and that was about it. Other homeschooling books charge slightly more for the book, but everything you need is in that book.

  193. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Katie, if someone is foolish enough to think poorly of DeMille because someone on the Internet asked if something about him was true or false, we can’t do anything for that person.

    These rumors are already out there (I’m hearing them from more than one source)–my hope in stating them and inviting response was that a TJE insider could say “no, he never claimed he was a BYU grad before his mentoring and here is proof in the form of a scanned page 22 of the original edition of TJE.” I’ve extended an invitation to put the matter to rest.

  194. Ardis Parshall on June 3, 2008 at 3:34 pm

    I realize the discussion has now fractured into a half-dozen threads, but going back to the one I’m pursuing: I would very much appreciate a pointer to some essay that demonstrates TJE’s use of the classics. Way back, Jami gave me a link to one of TJE’s books, pointing out that I could search inside on the Amazon site. I’ve been doing that for the last hour or so. It isn’t what I’m looking for, though. There are many statements such as these:

    “I initially began to study the classics in earnest after …” “… growth that I have experienced through the study of classics …” “Classics are the world’s gift of knowledge …” “The classics are the perfect vehicle …” “… movies about classic books are easy to find …” “… knowledge gained from reading the classics of law …”

    I understand that the method calls for a study of the classics. But what I am looking for is some demonstration of HOW, or even THAT, DeMille or other theorists of TJE read any classic text.

    What has me tending to dismiss DeMille is that, in the few samples of his statements or writings presented, he gives lip service to the classics while making statements that seem to indicate that he has an extremely weak grasp of the books he recommends. If that is an unfair characterization, I’m looking for evidences to the contrary. Does he just preach the classics, or can you point to something that shows he has actually read, studied, and understood one of those great books?

  195. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 3:36 pm

    Note: The comments that now are #115 and 116 were accidentally trapped in the spam filter. I let them out. But this means that subsequent comment numbers changed, which means that references to comment numbers will be wrong.

  196. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 3:38 pm

    Another note: we have a norm here of closing comments down when, as Ardis mentions, the conversation fractures (and the length becomes unwieldy). I will need to close comments soon, so if you have parting shots, please bring them on. :)

    (Once comments close, you will be able to email me with anything you need to get off your chest and I can add comments in as warranted. I would really like to verify or debunk the allegation that DeMille lied about his education in the first edition of TJE.)

  197. Edje on June 3, 2008 at 3:59 pm

    196: Is “bunny math” some method of teaching geometric series? If so, that’s funny; and your kids are way ahead. :)

  198. Seth R. on June 3, 2008 at 4:04 pm

    Seems like TJEd shares the same problems I see with most motivational speakers.

    They sell you on adrenaline, a feeling of empowerment, and general happy-happy vibes. But in the end, they offer you nothing really substantial, and in the end, you are still the same person you were going into the seminar, minus a few hundred bucks.

    My feeling is that the vast majority of the motivational speaking circuit is utter rubbish and TJEd shows no sign of being any different.

  199. Sara R on June 3, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Julie, I tried to email you, but julie at timesandseasons dot org isn’t working. What email should I use?

  200. maria on June 3, 2008 at 4:06 pm

    Julie, somewhere in my files I have a “History of GYC” that I requested three years ago from GYC. It was published a few years before that, and written by Shannon Brooks. (Interestingly, the document was printed on regular copier paper and corner stapled, with a price tage of $10. I was sent it free of charge because I expressed my concerns about the integrity of the school founder and the program.) It is the document that states the original name of the college as being an extension of Coral Ridge. It also talks about DeMille’s own university exploration… his degree from BYU and how he not only paid for degrees from diploma mills, but used them on his resume to further his career until he realized they were only going to be a burr in his saddle in the long run. I believe the document also corraborates the story about the dream of the visionary statesman who changes the course of the “UN” meeting. I will look for it, but I know I won’t get it to you before you close the thread. I will email the relevant clauses it once I find the document.

  201. Researcher on June 3, 2008 at 4:09 pm

    “I do think it’s unseemly to post unsubstantiated rumors about someone in a public forum without first making sure you’re right” (190)

    That’s actually the grand tradition of blogging. As I understand it, there were rumors flying on blogs for a long time about Idaho Sen Larry Craig. The news organizations were closely monitoring the blog rumors but they didn’t publish anything until they had hard cold facts in their hands.

    “Where there’s smoke there’s fire” is not always true but often it is.

    Of course, you need to be careful to avoid libelous statements. But there are many defenses to claims of defamation including truth, statements made in good faith, opinion, fair comments on matters of public interest, etc.

    * * *

    This discussion raises the question of when and if you should abandon a movement because you find out that the leader has feet of clay. Sometimes the answer is yes. Sometimes the answer is no.

  202. Sam B. on June 3, 2008 at 4:13 pm

    Alison,
    Not to threadjack this further into a discussion of the pros and cons of homeschooling, but the fact that homeschooled kids do better than the average public school kid on standardized tests makes sense, and doesn’t really seem to cut either for or against homeschooling. That is, kids whose parents homeschool are likely involved with their kids’ educations (it follows almost without saying). Public schools are just that–public. That means that my daughter (with two parents with graduate education and a huge familiarity with public schools, private universities, etc.) will go to school with the kids in HUD housing next door, whose parents might not have graduate educations, etc., etc. My daughter is likely to perform above average on standarized tests whether we were to homeschool her, put her in the public schools, put her in a private school, or, um, the classical method with private piano and literature and history tutors. More interesting would be a study analyzing the performance of the same kid schooled at home and in the public school (or maybe her at home and her siblings in public schools).

    But in any event, I don’t really care, because homeschooling doesn’t appeal to me. Neither does Mr. DeMille or GWU or Cleon Skousen or anything else being discussed here.

  203. Katie Langston on June 3, 2008 at 4:32 pm

    “That’s actually the grand tradition of blogging.”

    Well Researcher, it may be the grand tradition of blogging, but that doesn’t make it particularly charitable. And it kind of discounts the human cost of wrongfully-destroyed reputations along the way.

    Regardless, this has been an engaging discussion. Thanks all. I’m out.

  204. Sara R on June 3, 2008 at 4:37 pm

    Katie, be sure to look at the other side of the coin. A public review, available for free on the web, is a great asset. Most people have to pay a lot of money before they can figure out if this curriculum is for them. The books are not usually available in libraries, and they don’t have a lot of specifics. The bulk of the information is at the seminars, which were $160 each a few years ago. There were 4 seminars, and they didn’t tell you everything at the first seminar. It was, “We’ll answer that question at the next seminar.” We need a little charity for the consumer too.

  205. Alison Moore Smith on June 3, 2008 at 4:39 pm

    So Aristotle, C.S. Lewis, and CLEON SKOUSEN are the three authors afforded triple book status on the top 100???

    Wow, kevinf (#166), your comparison between OD and Wade Cook was spot on, IMO. With the exception that I think “honorable men” admit they are out of their league and stop taking money from people before the big crash, your description really rang true to me, being fairly familiar with both groups.

    Julie, I probably have a first edition (I’ve had it for a while anyway). Where is the quote you’re looking for located?

    Julie is generous towards unschoolers that are doing a good job of home educating their children

    That’s probably because, as it was put to me about 14 years ago when I was writing about unschooling, “Unschooling has no definition and I have no reason to define it for you.”

    People can “unschool” with great success because unschooling–according to some proponents–can mean ANYTHING. Which allows it to be defined by sound principles rather than flawed ideas. TJED, on the contrary, is a flawed method.

    Julie, don’t shut it down! It’s just getting good! :)

  206. Ardis Parshall on June 3, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    I do think it’s unseemly to post unsubstantiated rumors about someone in a public forum without first making sure you’re right

    In a discussion format, asking for help is legitimate — Julie received information on several key points in this very discussion by asking for our collective experience and research. In the case of the statement under attack, it was clearly labeled as an unproven allegation for which verification or evidence to the contrary was sought, which should put all readers on notice that it was a question, not an accusation.

  207. Rebecca\'s atheist brother on June 3, 2008 at 4:42 pm

    I think it comes through in her writing here, but I just wanted to let you know that Rebecca is a very good mother and a thoughtful educator. I share most of the concerns of the majority here about TJEd, but I think it\’s likely that her children will survive it. I certainly survived my public school education (not to mention my Mormon education). Becca obviously comes from a family of diverse philosophies, and this is probably because of the strong autodidactic spirit we were raised with. Whatever else we disagree on, we share a belief that education is never complete.

  208. Alison Moore Smith on June 3, 2008 at 4:47 pm

    Sam B., I understand that homeschool parents are–almost by definition–involved in schooling. My point is that testing them will only reiterate that they are generally ahead. If you’re REALLY worried about quality education, why not FIRST focus on all the public schooled kids who are bringing the percentiles so far down for the schools. Try harassing those parents FIRST, before you start regulating the ones that are “involved” and, apparently, doing a darn good job. Maybe the parents whose kids are failing at public school should be required to homeschool?

    And while we’re at it, let’s start testing the public school teachers, too. If you’ve looked at the certification requirement, you’ll probably notice that it’s often much more about “tear sheets” than actual academic expertise.

  209. Alison Moore Smith on June 3, 2008 at 3:47 pm

    It’s very easy to get sucked into TJE (or any other program) when you’re just starting with homeschooling and you’re desperate for advice. I’ve seen a number of families start off down the wrong path because someone recommends their pet program to everyone.

    Amen! One of my convention speeches focuses on this “clinging to the latest homeschool fad” problem. (Not unlike “clinging to guns and religion”?) I’ve seen it over and over again — mostly on the back end when parents have “tried to do TJED [or unschool or whatever] for two years and it’s not working!”

    My response is always the same. “It’s not you. The method is flawed.”

    The problem is, homeschoolers are no more habituated to analyze curriculum or educational methods than public school parents are. As mlu said (#40), “if you did a similar critical reading of most of the public school programs being offered, you wouldn’t find them much better.”

    As convinced as I am that TJED is terribly flawed, I’m equally as convinced that the majority of public school programs/classes are, too. Yet most Americans still just go with the flow and work within the restrictive path the school board sets forth and see public school as the primary (or only) source to educate their children.

    Lastly, were you aware that when GWC was first created, it was actually an extension of Coral Ridge Baptist University and shared the same name?

    This just gets better and better.

    Tests are the most efficient way, but not the only.

    TMD (#52), the problem with your position is that overall homeschoolers perform a great deal BETTER on not only standardized tests (75th-80th percentile as opposed to 50th), but also on tests measuring social, emotional, and psychological development. So vet away, but you might want to start first where the biggest problems occur — public schools.

    I don’t see how this changes the value of the principles to homeschoolers and educators. Are you suggesting that good education is one thing for children and another for adults?

    TJED supporter #1, it changes the “value of the principle” because the OUTCOME you see in Thomas Jefferson was not achieved by the means you are now employing.

    I see this so often amongst unschoolers as well. They pick a small piece of someone’s method and elevate it in importance — while ignoring all the other contributors.

    Julie, FWIW, I generally find the same thing among all fads. The most vocal proponents are those who (1) have young children and/or (2) don’t really follow the method as outlined.

    Kind of like Saxon math (I abhor Saxon math, btw). People bow down to it, but when you talk to them, they “only do every other problem” or “skip three of the books” or “supplement with word problems and application.”

    OK, my kids are begging for “bunny math.” Back later to finish reading…

  210. Nate Oman on June 3, 2008 at 4:54 pm

    NOTE: I have’t read the thread, but since I work at a law school named after George Wythe — In this case The Marshall-Wythe School of Law at the College of William & Mary — I’d like to point out the idea that Jefferson was mentored by Wythe in lieu of formal education is essentially bunk. Jefferson “read law” in Wythe’s office, which was the standard form of legal education in the day. At the time there was not a single professor of English law in the world. Shortly after Jefferson became a member of the bar, Oxford University created the Regis Professorship of Law, which was held by William Blackstone and marked the entry of the common law into the university curriculum. In 1779, George Wythe was made a professor of law at the College of William & Mary, but this did not mean that he trained lawyers. (Nor did Blackstone, for that matter.) Rather, he taught undergraduates the equivalent of an intro to constitutional law and political theory. Legal training continued to be a matter of law office apprenticeship well into the nineteenth century, when the modern law school was invented by Christopher Columbus Langdell at Harvard in the 1870s.

    In short, Jefferson’s experience with Wythe was not some sort of pedagogical leap forward. Rather, it was a pretty standard legal apprenticeship, albeit with a very able lawyer.

  211. Jami on June 3, 2008 at 5:02 pm

    I guess the problem I am having with the debate is that I don’t care if Oliver DeMille has been recently diagnosed with schizophrenia and multiple personality disorder. It’s not really about the man. Never met him, never will. If he’s a kook, oh well. I don’t care if he’s got fluffy degrees. Because it is really not about him.

    I love this schooling method. I love how my children have flourished with it. I love the TJed people I know. They love my kids and I love their kids. If we began calling the method “Structured Unschooling Culminating in Classical Education and Self-Directed Learning,” I’d be OK with that. (Although then I’d have to type SUCCESDL, which makes me want to work towards an acronym that spells success.)

  212. Researcher on June 3, 2008 at 5:14 pm

    Structured Unschooling Culminating in Classical Education and Self-directed Study would result in SUCCESS.

  213. Jami on June 3, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    I couldn’t agree with you more, Researcher. What an insightful comment!

  214. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 5:23 pm

    The email should work; try again.

    What’s bunny math? We want to do bunny math!

    Allison, it should be on or about page 22. See my #180 for the statement that we are trying to verify or refute as accurate.

    Jami, I guess I am not clear how it can *not* be about him when he invented it, based it on his own life’s experience, promoted it, and has his name on every book about it. That said, if we put DeMille out of it and just evaluate the seven principles of TJE, some are terrible ideas and some are good ideas if they are implemented well and terrible ideas if they are not.

  215. Researcher on June 3, 2008 at 5:24 pm

    #210/212 Was that a set-up? :-)

  216. Jami on June 3, 2008 at 5:28 pm

    In the same way the Montessori education is not about Maria Montessori.

  217. Jami on June 3, 2008 at 5:31 pm

    No. I figured someone would come up with an acronym, but I did not intend to make the joke. Originally.

  218. Jami on June 3, 2008 at 5:38 pm

    So Julie, I guess what I mean is that yes, it is about the ideas and their implementation.

  219. Matt Evans on June 3, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    “I guess I am not clear how it can *not* be about him when he invented it”

    This is the ad hominem logical fallacy. It’s ironic that so many of these complaints about an educational method are based on a logical fallacy. America is doomed.

  220. Kaimi on June 3, 2008 at 6:05 pm

    Matt,

    Do you believe that TJE is a good and effective educational method, then? Or are you just amusing yourself by sniping?

  221. Kaimi on June 3, 2008 at 6:11 pm

    n.b. Julie is not simply criticizing TJE as an educational or pedadogical system. She is also criticizing the marketing of that system, which is based (as described here) largely on DeMille’s personal story.

    Now, if I were saying, “the V-8 engine is ineffective because it was invented by a drug addict,” that would be a fallacy. But a system that relies heavily on DeMille’s personal history for its marketing is absolutely linked to DeMille’s character.

    (In a lot of ways, this is like Mormonism itself. The veracity of the religion depends to some degree on Joseph Smith’s character, and so one logically legitimate way to attack the religion is to suggest that there were problems in Joseph Smith’s character. Given the way the two are linked, this is not a logical fallacy.)

  222. TMD on June 3, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    [Julie, please excuse the distraction, but some things should not be passed by.]

    Alison: in re 196, states

    TMD (#52), the problem with your position is that overall homeschoolers perform a great deal BETTER on not only standardized tests (75th-80th percentile as opposed to 50th), but also on tests measuring social, emotional, and psychological development. So vet away, but you might want to start first where the biggest problems occur–public schools.

    (I here post a comment made a few months ago at BCC, in response to a similar claim that caused me to do a review of the scholarly literature on the topic, using the resources of a Big-10 university libraray.)

    In fact there is remarkably little research on homeschooled children’s academic acheivement.

    However, I was able to find some in the Peabody Journal of Education (published by lawrence Earlbaum) on home schooling. (I will note that I had to use several research databases to find any serious work on homeschooling academic performance.) While some of the articles reflected serious methodological problems (in one, a hypotheses was that there would not be a statistically significant relationships–a profound error in research design), there were a few that were ok, and one that had one that had a clear grasp on the methods. One ok article addressed the socialization issue, and in reviewing a set of studies concluded that while homeschooled children do have similar (though still smaller) numbers of contacts with non-family members per week, the social networks had different characteristics (more significantly younger children, fewer peer-group interactions), and reported less intimate relationships with non-family members. (Medellin 2000)

    The best of the bunch was an article actually addressing, for the most part, the problems estimating numbers of homeschoolers and their most general characteristics, but it included the following footnote which is so important for these discussions that I reproduce it in toto:

    fn5: “Due to the success of homeschooling lobbying organizations, there are no representative datasets for studying the achievement of homeschooled students. Some states require homeschooling parents to demonstrate that their children have made academic progress, but often this can be accomplished in one of several ways, including presenting a portfolio of materials, being evaluated by a certified teacher, or having the child take an age-approriate achievement test. Not only do many states allow parents to choose whether to use and achievement test, but the parents are often allowed to choose the test. In some states, the results must be reported to the school district. Even in those states, state law generally bans using them for research.
    E. Isenberg, “What Have We Learned About Homeschooling?”, Peabody Journal of Education, 82: (2-3), 387-409 (2007)

    My little research project leads me to several conclusions:
    1. There is very little research being done on these topics, and certainly not in top-flight journals (i.e., not ones with high impact scores).
    2. Claims by homeschoolers that quantitative data support their claims that homeschooling does not lead to lower levels of achievement _on average_ are without foundation because representative data simply do not exist; appeals to SAT score comparisons or standardized test scores are methodologically flawed because they necessarily involve strong selection biases that very likely tend to inflate the reported average homeschool results.
    3. Discussions of the socialization impact of homeschooling would be best focused not in terms of number of interations, but in terms of quality (i.e., intimacy level) and quantity of non-family peer relationships, which seem to be lacking in the homeschooled context.

  223. EmWJ on June 3, 2008 at 6:16 pm

    Just to illustrate Kaimi’s point: President Hinckley First Vision Quotes

  224. Steve Evans on June 3, 2008 at 6:32 pm

    So clear something up for me, Nate. Is or isn’t your law school accredited?

  225. Researcher on June 3, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    Thanks TMD for the explanation in #221.

    Kaimi in 219 said, “Or are you just amusing yourself by sniping?”

    That’s the sole reason why I comment; isn’t it yours, too?

    I was going to “snip” at Matt Evans and ask what he would call the technique of listing members of your alma mater to give credence to your own comment (see #86) but the point in the discussion had passed and I didn’t make want to make an unnecessary enemy, so I decided not to make the comment. ;-)

  226. Adam Greenwood on June 3, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Sarcasm?

  227. Researcher on June 3, 2008 at 6:46 pm

    225 “Sarcasm?”

    My comment?

    Not the thanks part to TMD. The rest of it is. That’s why I put that awful little ;-) sign.

  228. Braveheart on June 3, 2008 at 6:52 pm

    Re #182 Citing a source, chapter and page is not hearsay. It’s absolutely amazing that truth doesn’t matter to some of you.

  229. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 7:18 pm

    Matt, he based the method itself on his own life experience. If he based the method on research with students, that would be entirely different and his personal life and experience and character would be irrelevant.

    One of the foundational claims of TJE is that studying the classics leads to moral greatness. If DeMille’s study of the classics has led to lying about his past, then it has very direct relevance to TJE as a method of learning.

  230. Alison Moore Smith on June 3, 2008 at 8:17 pm

    Due to the success of homeschooling lobbying organizations, there are no representative datasets for studying the achievement of homeschooled students

    Yes, it’s those idiotic homeschoolers with dumbed down kids who are preventing the avant-garde academics from finding out just how dumb they really are!

    claims that homeschooling does not lead to lower levels of achievement _on average_ are without foundation because representative data simply do not exist; appeals to SAT score comparisons or standardized test scores are methodologically flawed because they necessarily involve strong selection biases that very likely tend to inflate the reported average homeschool results.

    Actually, I’ve never seen a claim that homeschooling “does not lead to lower levels of achievement.” But I’ve seen plenty that claim it leads to higher ones. IMO it’s all about opportunity cost.

    Schools spend weeks–sometimes months–teaching to the tests that will be used. Does that not “tend to inflate reported average” public school results?

    Frankly, I find the tests ridiculous. I used them the first few years, but found them to be a waste of money. So my 7-year-old reads at a college comprehension level. What do I do with that?

    in terms of quality (i.e., intimacy level) and quantity of non-family peer relationships, which seem to be lacking in the homeschooled context.

    You seem to know few real homeschoolers and maybe have forgotten about the “quality” of contacts in the typical public school? Of do you consider getting a swirly top a great lesson in personal hygiene?

  231. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 8:22 pm

    The following was written by John Jenson and is copied with his permission. (He covers most of the same ground that I do in the original post, but he actually attended the seminars and can speak to that experience, which I cannot.) (Because I copied this out of a PDF, the formatting and notes are a little weird; the footnotes are within the document where they would have occurred on each page.)

    1
    An Evaluation of Thomas Jefferson Education

    First, a disclaimer: this is a mixture of publicly confirmable facts, our own personal experience,
    experience of others we deem reliable sources, and our opinion based on analysis of the
    foregoing sources. Others may come to different conclusions and we encourage the reader to
    draw their own. There is no smoking gun that “proves” any of our conclusions. Some of these
    points are ad hominem conclusions about the people involved rather than their ideas. We feel it is
    appropriate to consider these points because the method and the movement are so intertwined
    with the founders themselves. Oliver DeMille has made himself the public face of Thomas
    Jefferson Education and linked his academic legitimacy with that of his method.

    There are many good sources of information that promote Thomas Jefferson Education1. We
    encourage the reader to consult these sources in conjunction with this paper. The purpose of this
    paper is to give the other side of the story, the part that one would not hear from the promoters.
    Thus we are not attempting to be balanced, but we do believe we are fair.

    Why do we take the time and effort to share our evaluation of the Thomas Jefferson Educational
    method (TJEd)? Why not just let each person investigate for themselves about what is important
    to them? We have found in discussing TJEd with many people that some parents lack the tools,
    time, resources, or research training that has led us to our conclusions. We think that a choice of
    educational methods is very important and should be made with as much information as possible.
    We do not intend to imply that everything about TJEd is bad or ineffective. We share many of
    the same fundamental ideas as the TJEd founders: a basis on the classics of Western civilization;
    a preference for primary sources; an emphasis on language skills of reading, writing and
    analysis; the necessity of customizing an educational program to the needs of each child; etc. We
    have seen some good ideas that we have used in our home in the TJEd material and from other
    parents using TJEd methods. We believe that there is no one universal best method for all
    families and all children. We do oppose the idea stated in the TJEd seminar we attended that we
    must lay aside all other educational methods and use only the TJEd philosophy. We hope that
    parents will learn about many different methods and use what works for them and their children.
    We are not trying to say that Oliver DeMille is a bad person; he is probably a wonderful husband
    and father, and we have no doubt that he loves and wants the best for his children. We just think
    that much of his educational philosophy and the way it has been promoted are wrong, and
    dangerous if swallowed whole and practiced blindly.

    The Founders
    1. Oliver DeMille obtained two of his graduate degrees (and possibly all four, the wording is
    ambiguous, see DeMille Biography below) from an unaccredited degree mill which has no
    academic credentials—Coral Ridge Baptist University in Florida. He does list one legitimate

    1 George Wythe College Bookstore is the official source, http://www.gwc.edu/bookstore/cgi-bin/cp-app.pl; Mentoring Our
    Own yahoo discussion group, groups.yahoo.com/group/MentoringOurOwn/; an independent site by parents using
    TJEd principles, http://www.tjed.org.
    An Evaluation of Thomas Jefferson Education
    2
    degree from BYU, a B.S. in International Relations and Aerospace (though we have not
    actually verified this).

    page two
    2. For those unfamiliar with the term, a “degree mill” is a person or organization which gives
    itself a name, usually ending in “college” or “university.” They then, in exchange for some
    money, will give you a piece of paper with fancy type that says you have received a Ph.D. or
    Juris Doctor, or whatever you wish. Sometimes they ask you to provide some evidence of
    something you have done upon which to base the granting of this “degree.” This may be a
    book you have written, or maybe some “life experience,” or anything. This is why legitimate
    educational institutions are “accredited” by a well known organization that certifies that the
    degrees granted by the institution really mean something2. A degree mill is like a person
    dressing up as a policeman and going around giving tickets. They may wear the uniform, but
    unless they are actually an authorized policeman, the tickets mean nothing. Accredited
    institutions are strictly prohibited from granting credit for such “life experience” greater than
    about one year of equivalent classroom work3. This is because judging a “life experience” is
    such a subjective opinion. It also ensures that a graduate has a common base of knowledge
    and competence in a particular field. An unaccredited degree is like a politician’s promise
    before the election; you have no way to know if it means something or is just a bunch of hot
    air.

    3. There is no doubt in our minds that Coral Ridge Baptist (CRB) University is a “degree mill.”
    This institution had ceased to exist but has recently popped up again as a seminary offering
    both college degrees and “Ecclesiastical Endorsement” to become a chaplain in the military4.
    The President of the CRB University (Jeff Burnsed) is the pastor of the Coral Ridge Baptist
    Church which has the same postal address as the University.

    4. If DeMille had promoted himself as “Oliver DeMille,” instead of “Dr. Oliver DeMille” we
    would not care where he got his degrees or whether he had any at all. But when he puts them
    in front of his name he is promising that they are real and that he earned them, and if they’re
    not then he is being deceptive.

    5. It was explained by Shannon Brooks in the seminar we attended that DeMille searched the
    whole country for a school that would grant him a degree for the kind of mentor-led study
    that he wanted and that Coral Ridge was the only one he found. This says to us that no
    legitimate university recognized as valid the method he proposed for his graduate education.
    If DeMille has a new method that is not recognized by the current academic system then that
    does not necessarily imply that it is without merit. Maybe the current system refuses to
    recognize the truth and must be bypassed. That would be fine with us. But if he is claiming to
    have academic degrees that were not earned within the current academic system then that is
    deceptive and wrong. If he truly wants to be a revolutionary and rejects the current academic
    system, why the necessity for titles and degrees?

    6. In his speaker biography (see below) DeMille is first listed as the “founder” of George
    Wythe College, then at the end is given a whole list of titles (“Dean of Entrepreneurial
    Studies,” “Provost”) until he is “appointed President in 1999.” If he had said just “Founder,”
    or “Founder and President” we would be fine with that. But for an organization as small as
    George Wythe College, his list is needless title manipulation. If this is done to make George
    Wythe College and DeMille seem more impressive, then it is deceptive.
    2 For information about how accreditation works in the US see http://www.ed.gov/admins/finaid/accred/index.html
    3 http://www.wascweb.org/senior/handbook.pdf, p. 77.
    4 http://www.crbu-externalstudies.com/pages/1/

    page 3
    An Evaluation of Thomas Jefferson Education

    3
    7. DeMille prominently cites his reception of the “prestigious George Washington Gold Honor
    Medal.” The George Washington Honor Medal has been awarded to over 56,000 people5 and
    has rather loose criteria for qualification. He did not receive the “Distinguished Award”
    which actually is prestigious6. No disrespect intended to the Freedom Foundation at Valley
    Forge, but this is not something that indicates any special qualification or achievement. To
    cite this so prominently indicates either a lack of judgment or a propensity to selfaggrandizement.
    Neither of these faults would necessarily mean that his educational ideas
    were bad, it just causes us to examine his claims a little more closely.

    8. DeMille was mentored by W. Cleon Skousen. This is necessarily neither good nor bad, but
    depends on the reader’s opinion of W. Cleon Skousen. We mention it here because it is not
    widely known but seems to us to be an important fact if the mentor is so critical to the
    education of the student.

    9. Shannon Brooks, vice president of George Wythe College, who is the only founder that we
    have met, appeared to us as more of a salesman than a statesman. This may be a proper role
    for the vice president, but we were not impressed by the heavy sales tactics.

    10. We have heard many anecdotal reports of DeMille’s charismatic personality and how people
    are enthralled by him. There is nothing inherently wrong with this. We caution people only to
    make sure they are evaluating his ideas and not his charisma.

    11. During the seminar we attended7 Shannon Brooks told a very scathing story about the
    religious extremism of an LDS couple acting as representatives for the Church at an
    international conference. The described behavior was so outlandish we have difficulty
    believing that any member acting as a representative of the Church would do such a thing.
    We perceived this as an attempt to distance himself and George Wythe College from the
    Church and ingratiate himself with a group of non-LDS people who had expressed concern
    about George Wythe College’s LDS connection. These people were parents potentially
    considering George Wythe College for their children. It may be that this is not typical of
    Brooks or of DeMille, but unfortunately even one comment like this causes us concern.

    12. George Wythe College and TJEd are promoted in a way that encourages a cult of personality
    around their founder Oliver DeMille. Followers are encouraged to rely heavily on his advice
    in every detail of homeschooling, including furniture placement in their homes8.

    13. The TJEd founders have not raised their children through the teenage years with this method,
    nor have they raised teenagers thru to adulthood. Again, this does not necessarily mean that
    the TJEd ideas will not work with teenagers. But many of the concerns we have with TJEd
    ideas are most acute during the teenage years and we would have much more confidence if
    the founders had personally proven them to work in their own families, or at least had some
    empathy where they could say that they had been through it.
    Thomas Jefferson Education Method

    14. We believe that strict application of several of the TJEd principles are impractical and run
    counter to Gospel principles as we understand them. We are concerned that children who are
    5 http://www.ffvf.org/award.htm
    6 http://www.ffvf.org/aw_rec.htm
    7 Face to Face with Greatness Seminar, May 15, 2004, Washington State.
    8 TJEd pamphlet Ingredients for Success.
    An Evaluation of Thomas Jefferson Education

    page
    4
    educated with the strict application of TJEd methods are given too much responsibility for
    their level of maturity and that as a result they will not be prepared for college.

    15. The method of mentoring for which Thomas Jefferson and George Wythe are held up as an
    example of greatness was only used by Jefferson as an apprentice in Wythe’s law practice
    while in his early twenties, though the relationship continued for the rest of Wythe’s life9.
    Jefferson’s education during his teens was a typical classical education of his day.

    16. In Jefferson’s own writings about educational philosophy he makes no particular mention of
    mentors, nor in fact does he advocate homeschooling. He promotes publicly funded
    classroom schools with common required curriculum for each student and near compulsory
    attendance10. This seems to be exactly the kind of “conveyor belt” education of which
    DeMille is so critical. This causes us to question why DeMille chose Jefferson as the
    namesake for his educational theories. We assume that DeMille must have known what
    Jefferson’s views on education were, or did he? Using Jefferson as the namesake is so
    contradictory, unless he wanted the cachet, or prestige, of the name as a marketing tool
    instead of the substance. This is all speculation, but unfortunately every loose end like this
    makes one wonder about the rest of the story.

    17. The TJEd method has some illogical explanations of their educational theories. For example,
    one of their seminars espouses the idea that we must allow children to fail if we are ever
    going to help them to soar. They say that most parents put children in a box of mediocrity
    which has a top and a bottom. When we open the bottom (and allow them to fail by giving
    them their freedom), the top automatically opens as well to let them fly. But when we close
    the bottom, the top automatically comes “crashing down” on them. It may sound logical but
    it really is an either/or fallacy. Furthermore don’t we put them in a box when it comes to
    dating or internet use? Providing a good, solid foundation for children gives them a
    launching pad and does not ipso facto create a ceiling which keeps them from achieving their
    potential.

    18. “Inspire don’t require” is a catchy saying that runs counter to the responsibilities given to
    parents by the Lord. Parents do have a responsibility for educating their children and giving
    them the best guidance they can. Most children are not mature enough to understand the
    benefits of a rigorous education. We certainly require them to learn spiritual truths when they
    are young, and parents suffer condemnation if they are not taught11. Why would we do less
    for academic knowledge? However, we believe the preference for inspiration rather than
    edict is good when applied in moderation. If DeMille had said “inspire as much as possible,
    but you will have to require some things,” we would have said “right-on.” But he takes it to
    the extreme and says “inspire, don’t require at all,” the student must take complete
    responsibility for their education. Maybe our children are just backward, but that just isn’t
    practical, and yes, we have tried some experiments in this.

    19. “It’s about you, not them” puts all the weight on parents setting a good example of
    scholarship and assumes the child will follow. This sounds good but doesn’t work with the
    average child. Furthermore, the parent’s responsibility is to educate, and their responsibility
    to be educated may have to take a back seat to other responsibilities at times. Again, taken in
    moderation this is a good idea. Leading by example certainly is a principle of Gospel
    leadership. But the TJEd philosophy takes this to extremes, saying that if a child doesn’t
    9 http://www.libertyhaven.com/thinkers/georgewythe/georgewilliam.html and footnotes.
    10 etext.lib.virginia.edu/jefferson/quotations/jeff1370.htm
    11 D&C 68:25.

    page 5
    An Evaluation of Thomas Jefferson Education
    5
    want to study algebra, the parent should be doing algebra problems themselves for an hour a
    day until the child follows their example.

    20. The TJEd method of teaching math and science solely from primary sources is inefficient and
    ineffective and will lead the majority of students and parents to discouragement rather than
    enlightenment. For example, successfully learning calculus by reading Newton’s Principia
    would take more dedication and intelligence than by learning it from even the worst modern
    textbook. Even if accomplished, it would leave the student unfamiliar with modern notation
    and ill equipped to take any standardized test. Students need a certain level of math and
    science skills to attend most colleges and universities. A lack of these skills cuts off students
    from opportunities for further education and professional careers.

    21. There is no track record that the TJEd theories work with a broad range of children. On the
    contrary, there are many accounts of TJEd not working with many children, usually because
    parents are afraid of “requiring” them to study difficult subjects.

    22. TJEd is marketed and promoted as a profit-making product rather than shared as an
    educational philosophy. Four seminars at a total cost of about $640 are required before the
    parent is fully qualified to teach with the TJEd method. We certainly agree that the presenters
    are worthy of their hire and have to support their families. But it seems to us that the
    importance of completing all the seminars is promoted excessively. Why can’t a more
    general overview with all the key concepts be presented in the first seminar, instead of
    answering so many questions with “come back to the next seminar and we’ll cover that.” If
    the ideas themselves don’t stimulate enough interest then sales tactics won’t work in the long
    run.

    23. The quality and quantity of written material provided to attendees at the seminar we attended
    was far inferior to that provided by other educational seminars of equivalent or lesser cost.
    Even when requested, the presenters did not provide references or citations for the material
    they quoted or referred to. We also emailed Shannon Brooks after the seminar asking for
    particular references and never received a reply. This does not make sense given the TJEd
    emphasis in later phases that all work be “publication quality.” In this case we certainly were
    not being lead by example.

    24. Shannon Brooks at the seminar spent time discussing the merits of being a
    leader/statesman/entrepreneur versus a follower/salaried worker bee. He uses the example of
    DeMille’s son asking him to help him write a resume to fulfill a scouting requirement.
    DeMille refused to help him write a resume, but told his son he would help him write a
    business plan. In DeMille’s book there is also a bias toward entrepreneurship. Is this the only
    valid career path in their eyes? This is not a practical goal for everyone.

    25. At the seminar we attended, Shannon Brooks, after questioning by the participants, stated
    that they weren’t trying to reach everyone with this method, that TJEd was really only
    intended for the top 5% to 10% of students. Is this really what the founders think; that this is
    an educational method only for the elite? It is possible that this is Brooks’ personal view and
    is not shared by DeMille. However, we found corroboration that this is the attitude of the
    faculty at George Wythe College as well in the statement of a GWC student mentioned
    below. This student’s experience was that only 1 or 2 students out of the entire class are
    favored and actually mentored.

    page 6
    An Evaluation of Thomas Jefferson Education
    6
    George Wythe College
    26. George Wythe College (GWC) is a very small institution. Its most recent graduating class
    had 13 students12. All freshmen and sophomores meet together in one 3 hour seminar four
    times a week. They have one 2 hour Science class once a week and one 2 hour Mathematics
    class once a week13. All juniors and seniors also meet together with a similar schedule except
    their seminar is only 2 hours long. These seminars are held in the new building in a room that
    is no bigger than 600 sq. ft.14. That would be a room about 20 ft. by 30 ft., which would hold
    no more than 35 people comfortably. Thus the entire current undergraduate student body
    could be no larger than about 70 students at present. There is nothing inherently bad about
    being small; we just want the reader to remember how small GWC is when considering what
    it claims to be doing.

    27. GWC has an inbred faculty; many of the faculty cite degrees from GWC itself. Though this
    does not necessarily imply a lack of ability or qualification, it is troubling that no other
    independent certification of merit is available. There is no public information on any other
    academic credentials (their degrees or where they came from) or their scholarly publications
    (evidence that they have done scholarly work of publication quality). In our experience,
    faculty of legitimate institutions always cite their degrees and when and where they were
    granted, often along with some specific field of research where they have published papers.

    28. After 13 years, GWC is still not accredited, although they have promised students numerous
    times in the past that accreditation was just around the corner15. In order to become
    accredited, GWC will have to employ only faculty and administrators that have degrees in
    fields appropriate for their teaching responsibilities from institutions accredited by
    recognized U.S. accrediting organizations16. That means you have to have a graduate degree
    in Mathematics to teach Mathematics or a graduate degree in Science to teach Science.
    Unless the current faculty have accredited degrees that are not listed on the GWC web site,
    there will have to be considerable turnover in faculty before accreditation is possible. The
    lack of accreditation does not necessarily mean that quality is absent. As mentioned above,
    maybe DeMille has a new system whose worth is not recognized by the current academic
    community. Maybe GWC doesn’t need to be accredited. If this is the case then DeMille
    should reject accreditation and honestly tell students and parents that GWC will never be
    accredited. What troubles us is that DeMille has promised accreditation many times and not
    delivered.

    29. We happened to meet a GWC student one day recently. Neither of us had sought each other
    out, we were just speaking about education during a chance meeting and discovered we had a
    common interest in GWC. We report here what we heard from this student. We have no
    reason to believe this student would not tell the truth and we deem it to be a reliable report.
    The conditions described had occurred within this past year. This student reported that when
    12 http://www.gwc.edu/pdf/statesman_08_11.pdf, p. 4.
    13 http://www.gwc.edu/calendar.asp
    14 see plan in http://www.gwc.edu/pdf/statesman_08_11.pdf, p. 1, the largest classroom occupies about 9% of the entire
    building which is 6500 sq. ft. as stated in the article.
    15 GWC was founded in 1991 according to DeMille,
    http://www.homeschoolnewslink.com/articles/vol4iss2/oliver_v4i2.html, though in another place DeMille says that
    classes began in September 1992, http://www.gwc.edu/newsletter_1999_dec.asp, in that 1999 article DeMille sets 2002 as
    an “Accreditation target.”
    16 Accreditation Standards, Standard III.A.1.a at http://www.accjc.org

    page 7
    An Evaluation of Thomas Jefferson Education
    7
    they arrived at GWC they thought that all the students would get one-on-one mentors. This
    was not the case. Only the seniors got mentors, but the student could request one and they
    would “see what they could do.” This student never received a mentor. Out of each class the
    faculty would choose one or two students to devote their attention to and the rest were left to
    themselves. They were assigned papers, but only got a Pass/Fail grade and very little, if any,
    feedback so this student never knew how they were doing. The computers they had to use
    were extremely old. This student reported that GWC was “always broke and there was never
    enough staff to keep things running smoothly.” One of this student’s classes started with one
    teacher but when the money ran out to pay them the teacher left and the class was taught by
    DeMille.

    30. If this report is accurate it paints quite a disconcerting picture of GWC’s operation. We can
    understand that starting up a new college from scratch undoubtedly would not occur
    overnight. But we would expect a greater level of financial and operational stability after 13
    years.

    31. What is most troublesome to us about this report is what seems to be the failure to follow
    fundamental TJEd principles like mentoring. If the institution that DeMille founded and
    controls as President is not mentoring its students we have to wonder what he really believes
    in. It may be that in the faculty’s view every student that attends GWC is “mentored” simply
    because of the small class size. DeMille expresses this opinion in a 1998 interview with a
    reporter for the homeschooling organization The Link17. Though this would also imply that
    the student body is even smaller since DeMille puts the upper limit for a “mentored” class at
    15 students. That does not seem to be mentoring to us.

    32. Although GWC was founded to create the “entrepreneurs and statesmen of the next century,”
    after 13 years during a mostly booming economy, none of them have been either successful
    enough or grateful enough to their alma mater to fund any substantial capital improvement.
    Until the end of 2004, GWC operated out of a few leased sections of a strip mall. They have
    started construction of a 6500 sq. ft. building containing 3 classrooms that they are scheduled
    to occupy in Jan. 2005, according to their web site. This does not come about because of past
    contributions since the majority of the funding is dependent on future contributions to GWC
    not yet in hand18.

    33. There is evidence on the Internet that GWC itself once had formal ties with Coral Ridge
    Baptist University. It is referred to in some documents as “a branch of Coral Ridge Baptist
    University”19. There is even an entry for a book on the Deseret Book web site where the
    author biography says that the author, Vicki Jo Anderson, “… went on to earn an M.A.
    degree in History from Coral Ridge Baptist University (George Wythe Campus).”20 It is
    interesting to note that Glenn Kimber, the founder of the Kimber Academy (a vendor of
    packaged curriculum with private schools in several states), cites Ph.D.’s from both Coral
    Ridge Baptist University and George Wythe College21. There was also an Arkansas State
    Court of Appeals hearing in September 2001 in which the defense attempted to have a Dr.
    Ann B. Tracy testify22. She testified under oath that “she received a bachelor’s degree in
    17 http://www.homeschoolnewslink.com/articles/vol4iss2/oliver_v4i2.html
    18 http://www.gwc.edu/pdf/statesman_08_11.pdf, p. 2.
    19 http://www.home-school.com/Articles/phs15-fritzhinrichs.html
    20 deseretbook.com/store/product?product_id=100010935
    21 http://www.kimberacademy.net/aboutkimbers.php
    22 courts.state.ar.us/opinions/2001b/20010905/ar001273.html

    page 8
    An Evaluation of Thomas Jefferson Education
    8
    psychology and biblical studies from Coral Ridge Baptist University in Utah. She also holds
    a Ph.D. degree in health sciences, with emphasis on psychology, from George Wythe
    College.” Note the reference to a Coral Ridge Baptist University in Utah.
    34. Why does it matter if GWC was associated with Coral Ridge Baptist University? Because
    CRB University is a degree mill, a fraudulent and deceptive enterprise. It would profoundly
    reflect on the integrity and character of George Wythe College, and its founder, if, at its
    founding, George Wythe College was in any way associated with such an enterprise. If
    DeMille made a youthful mistake and has since changed his ways, we would be the last to
    forever hold it over his head. If this is the case, let him make a public clarification of the
    relationship between GWC and CRB University and renounce all ties with CRB University,
    including the listing of its degrees in his resume. Otherwise, we cannot trust his academic
    integrity.

    35. The following quote is from a Deseret News article on August 22, 2004:
    “Ann Blake Tracy, according to the International Coalition for Drug Awareness web site,
    has a doctorate in health sciences with an emphasis on psychology. There is no mention
    of the institution that awarded her this degree — George Wythe College, in Cedar City.
    Tracy explains that the Ph.D. was awarded for ‘lifetime experience,’ specifically for the
    writing of ‘Prozac: Panacea or Pandora?’ which she says she has been told is the
    equivalent of, or ‘far beyond,’ a dissertation.”23

    It appears that GWC is awarding graduate degrees based on “life experience.” Without using
    “life experience,” we find it difficult to explain how an institution the size of GWC is able to
    grant Ph.D.’s in fields as varied as: Health Science, Family Counseling, Education, and
    International Business (see list of claimed degrees below). Also note that one Ph.D. was
    granted in 1994, which was no more than two years after the first classes began at GWC. We
    are forced to conclude that GWC is involved in the same deceptive degree mill practices as
    DeMille’s “alma mater,” Coral Ridge Baptist University. If this is true, it is unlikely in the
    extreme that any accrediting organization would ever grant accreditation to George Wythe
    College as long as DeMille was still associated with the institution. If DeMille is willing to
    be deceptive in this way, it makes it difficult for us to believe anything else he says.

    Summary of Our View
    Our misgivings about Thomas Jefferson Education and George Wythe College fall into three
    main categories:

    1) Dubious Background of the Founder: Oliver DeMille bought his degrees from a degree mill
    called Coral Ridge Baptist University. (We wonder why is he so infatuated with degrees and
    titles, if his purpose is to get off of the academic “conveyor belt”?) The TJEd home school
    seminars are geared to feeding parents and students into George Wythe College, a college that is
    not accredited (even though they have told students accreditation was imminent) , nor probably
    will ever be, unless they attract and hire faculty with degrees from accredited universities.
    Seminars are set up at the expense of home school coops and parents—they must pay for the
    building—and usually cost $160 for each participant. During the two days, high pressure sales
    tactics are used to sell the three other seminars, the Five Pillar Certification program, and GWC’s
    23 deseretnews.com/dn/print/1,1442,595085602,00.html

    page 9
    An Evaluation of Thomas Jefferson Education
    9
    distance learning programs. Furthermore, the materials given out—at least those we received–
    are skimpy and very unprofessional.

    Although this is our subjective opinion only, we see DeMille as setting up an organization which
    draws people into a “cause” and sustains them by the energy of his charisma. He purports that
    only through his method–which he names after Thomas Jefferson, but has little to do with how
    Jefferson was actually educated through high school—will parents and children become “liber”
    and be able to promote the cause of freedom. The lofty ideals he puts forth sound good, but
    parents are often stumped in the execution of his principles or keys. He and his wife recently
    wrote another pamphlet describing 55 essential ingredients to a TJEd home, thus setting up his
    own “conveyor belt” with precise stipulations as to where furniture must be placed etc. In our
    opinion, DeMille is promoting himself as the LDS homeschooler’s “Moses” to lead us to the
    promised land of “liber.” How “liber” is it to rely on the DeMille’s for every bit of parenting and
    educational advice?

    2) The Parents’ Roles Are Reversed. TJEd demands that parents set the example of scholarship
    and allow their children to follow, or not. They ask parents to study, write, certify and worry
    about their own education as they promote the idea that “It’s you, not them!” Do you want your
    children to learn algebra? Then set the example and do algebra problems an hour a day and soon
    they will follow you. It is obvious to us that DeMille has not raised teenagers yet, nor is he very
    in touch with what motivates most teens! Math and other difficult subjects require discipline and
    constant effort and usually must be required. At our home, math is done first thing after exercise
    and morning devotional because it is the LAST subject our children want to tackle. But tackle it
    they must because math trains and disciplines the mind, and they want to go to college. We take
    time to tutor them, but we certainly are not doing an hour of math problems each day right along
    with them. They are the students, and although we learn a great deal as we homeschool, the
    emphasis is on them, NOT us.

    3) Inadequate Preparation for the Real World. We do not believe that the TJEd model will
    prepare our children to adequately enter the real world in which they must live and work. One of
    the ways DeMille escapes from the realities of standardized testing and rigorous math
    backgrounds is to promote the idea of entrepreneurialism. In the Face to Face with Greatness
    seminar, they try to demonstrate that independent business owners (with a liberal arts degree
    from GWC, for example) can make a lot more money than a salaried engineer and in the end be a
    lot more secure than those who have stayed on the “conveyor belt” of standard academia and
    employment. And DeMille has certainly practiced what he preaches. He has set up a business
    and a college and is selling an educational product. To our knowledge, he has never held any
    other kind of job as a working adult. This is not a bad thing, but it is impractical to expect all of
    our children to start businesses or even want to. Most of us will train for careers and work for
    someone else. Most of our LDS church leaders are men who worked for companies as
    employees, although a few have built their own businesses, after they worked for someone else.
    People who are employees can still be “liber” and act as “statesmen” in their communities.
    DeMille wants each child to find their mission in life and prepare for it in the scholar phase with
    5000 to 8000 hours of intensive study of anything they choose. Occasionally, children know
    what they want to be when they grow up, but most people explore various fields of study or

    page 10
    An Evaluation of Thomas Jefferson Education
    10
    occupations before they choose one to pursue as a career. The TJEd proposition is that if you go
    deep enough into any topic—even motorcycles—the child will have to learn math, engineering,
    history etc. This is the unit study argument and although it may work for elementary school
    children, the vast majority of teens need a structured, year by year study of math to master the
    principles of algebra, geometry, trigonometry and calculus. Children should have some say in
    their education and some time to pursue their interests—that is one of the advantages of
    homeschooling. However, we believe strongly that parents need to provide guidance for their
    children to open as many doors to them as possible as they pass into adulthood and go on to
    further studies and specialization. We can’t leave children, who are not mature enough to really
    know what is best for them, to flounder on their own until their options for the future are
    diminished. It is woefully impractical and blindly idealistic to expect as much maturity and selfdiscipline
    from most children as seems to be required using the TJEd philosophy.

    Graduate Degrees Claimed from GWC
    Einar Erickson, Ph.D., claims to be a “Professor of Science”, granted 199924
    Ray Gwilliam, Ph.D. Family Counseling25
    Kimberly Smith, Masters, Biblical Studies26
    Troy Henke, Ed.D., Education27
    Vicki Jo Anderson, M.A., History28
    Glenn Kimber, Ph.D., Education, granted 199429
    Ann B. Tracy, Ph.D., Health Sciences30
    Mark D. Siljander, Ph.D., International Business31

    Oliver DeMille Speaker Biography32
    Dr. Oliver De Mille is the founder and president of George Wythe College, the only college in
    the United States dedicated specifically to preparing Entrepreneurs and Statesmen, using the
    methods which trained great leaders from Washington to Jefferson, Lincoln to Churchill, and
    Gandhi to Martin Luther King, Jr. President DeMille earned his Bachelor’s degree in
    International Relations and Aerospace Studies at Brigham Young University, a Master’s and a
    PH.D. from Coral Ridge Baptist University in Jacksonville, Florida. The focus of his doctoral
    studies was the education of the American Founding Fathers. He also earned the Juris Doctor and
    was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law for his legal and political writings. Dr. DeMille is the
    author of 3 books and numerous articles, including: Mexico and World Government, Germany
    and the European Community, Thomas Jefferson Education and “Rethinking National Security”.
    President DeMille is a two-time recipient of the prestigious George Washington Gold Honor
    24 http://www.einarerickson.com/content/view/10/28/
    25 http://www.familycci.com/who_are_we.html
    26 http://www.rakkav.com/kdhinc/pages/interest.htm
    27 http://www.idaholeadership.com/aboutUs.php?page=faculty
    28 deseretbook.com/store/product?product_id=100010935
    29 http://www.kimberacademy.net/aboutkimbers.php
    30 deseretnews.com/dn/print/1,1442,595085602,00.html
    31 http://www.gwc.edu/newsletter_1999_dec.asp
    32 The Link Homeschool Conference, 2004,
    http://www.homeschoolnewslink.com/confpdf2004/LINK_2004ConferenceA01.pdf, page 4.

    page 11
    An Evaluation of Thomas Jefferson Education
    11
    Medal from the Freedom Foundation at Valley Forge. He has delivered speeches and workshops
    across the United States at business groups, colleges, universities, media and civic events, and as
    a consultant to numerous business organizations including Fortune 500 executives.
    Dr. De Mille served as Dean of Entrepreneurial Studies and later Provost before he was
    appointed President in 1999. He is married to the former Rachel Pinegar. Together they
    homeschool their 6 children.

    The Speeches
    Transcripts of various DeMille speeches can be found at:
    June 13, 1998: http://www.homeschoolnewslink.com/articles/vol3iss7/demille.htm
    July 1998: http://www.homeschoolnewslink.com/articles/vol4iss1/reasons.htm
    Interview 1998: http://www.homeschoolnewslink.com/articles/vol4iss2/oliver_v4i2.html
    June 12, 1999: http://www.ldshea.org/pages/2003_Conference/demille_leadership.htm
    Date Unknown: http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Prairie/6428/hs2a.pdf
    Document version 2, 1/05

  232. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    Jenson has also provided me with a response to his statement from Shanon D.
    Brooks, Vice President/COO, GWC:

    A Response to “An Evaluation of Thomas Jefferson Education”
    Most of the facts in this article are true, and we have never denied them in any
    way and have openly admitted them. But the general tone and many of the
    conclusions are false. For example:
    • Coral Ridge Baptist University is not accredited. Neither is George Wythe
    College. But we affirm that the quality of many non accredited schools is as
    high as many accredited schools.
    • Oliver DeMille received his Ph.D. from Coral Ridge Baptist University, an
    unaccredited school. This is true, and we affirm that the degree was a
    legitimate degree from an unaccredited school duly registered and legal.
    Accreditation does not equal quality. DeMille holds the following earned
    degrees:
    o Bachelor of Arts, Biblical Studies, Coral Ridge Baptist University,
    unaccredited & distance studies (Florida)
    o Bachelor of Arts, International Relations, Brigham Young
    University, accredited & on campus studies (Utah)
    o Master of Arts, Political & Biblical Science, Coral Ridge Baptist
    University, unaccredited & distance studies (Florida)
    o Ph.D., Religious Education, Coral Ridge Baptist University,
    unaccredited & distance studies (Florida)
    o J.D., LaSalle University, unaccredited & distance studies (Louisiana)
    In terms of quality, Oliver ranks his educational experience as:
    • Coral Ridge: outstanding
    • BYU: very good
    • LaSalle University: poor
    • Writing in print that Coral Ridge Baptist University is a degree mill, when
    in fact it is a legally and duly registered university, is wrong and a could be
    a legal matter of libel. Coral Ridge was a duly registered educational
    institution with the State of Florida, and acted legally under state
    educational law for the duration of its association with GWC. To call them
    a diploma mill is to second guess the legislature and executive branch of
    Florida during these years; it is also factually inaccurate.
    • Dr. DeMille was mentored by Dr. W. Cleon Skousen, and also by various
    other mentors. Dr. DeMille is proud of this period of studies with this
    mentor, one of the leading experts in the world on the writings of the
    founding fathers.
    • When DeMille founded the school, the board felt he was too young to be
    President, and so Dr. Donald N. Sills was appointed President. Dr. Sills was
    the co-founder of George Wythe College. While Dr. Sills served as
    President, DeMille served first as a Dean and later as Provost. He was
    appointed President by the board in 1999.
    • Oliver DeMille was awarded a Principal Award for the year of 1990 by the
    Freedom’s Foundation at Valley Forge, and another in 1991. This was for
    an essay contest. The foundation gives a number of awards each year, all
    of them prestigious. The fact that many people over the years have received
    this award does not make it less prestigious.
    • GWC is a very small institution, with approximately 60 on campus students
    meeting in a building of 6500 square feet. The GWC combined classrooms
    hold up to 120 students comfortably. The quality of learning that occurs in
    this building is extremely high. Before enrolling, all potential students are
    encouraged to visit the campus and participate in a class to see exactly what
    GWC has to offer.
    • GWC is actively seeking accreditation, which requires a significant
    financial endowment which we have not yet attained. We have never told
    students or anyone that GWC is accredited, or when it will be. We have
    said that we are actively pursuing it, that we would like to achieve it within
    a few years, and that significant funds are needed to complete this process.
    We have high hopes that this will occur soon, but there is no guarantee—
    and we have been extremely up front about this. Students requiring an
    accredited undergraduate program should find another school; more than 60
    students a year continue to choose the quality of GWC.
    • GWC intends to always have at least 60% of its faculty hold degrees from
    GWC; we have instituted a new academic system, and the quickest way to
    lose it is to hire professors from the conveyer belt and put them in charge of
    classes. This intention has been openly announced and discussed in our
    seminars and speeches on numerous occasions.
    • As Vice President/COO, I (Dr. Brooks) have worked hard to study the
    cutting edge of marketing and sales and to apply the best principles of
    advertising and sales successfully and ethically. Indeed, these skills are a
    required qualification for the same position at nearly every other college
    and university. If I can find a way to get this important message of
    leadership education to more people, to have more people trained in
    leadership education in our seminars through better sales and marketing, I
    will pursue it to the best of my ability.
    • All GWC students have a mentor. A mentor is someone who delivers the 5
    Environments of Mentoring, as taught at GWC seminars; this is not the
    same as a conveyer belt tutor who meets one-on-one almost daily with each
    student. Every full time student at GWC is assigned a mentor who works
    to ensure that all 5 Environments are delivered. Also, Depth Mentors in the
    TJ Ed model are different than Scholar Phase Mentors—and all GWC full
    time on campus students have an assigned depth mentor. Conveyer belt
    trained people will likely misunderstand this terminology and confuse a
    mentor with a tutor. But in the TJ Ed model, if the 5 Environments are well
    delivered, the student is well mentored—and at GWC on campus the 5
    Environments are well delivered by mentors. If someone doesn’t
    understand the terminology, know that we are trying as hard as we can to
    teach the terminology far and wide—using sales and marketing to get as
    many people as possible to listen. To increase your understanding of the 5
    Environments, read A Thomas Jefferson Education, or see our website for a
    seminar near you.
    • GWC openly advertised our formal ties to Coral Ridge Baptist
    University—GWC was a duly registered and legal branch of Coral Ridge
    from 1991 to 2001. Coral Ridge is not a diploma mill; it is a church owned
    Southern Baptist school that was legal and duly registered during this entire
    time. While it is true that many people consider Southern Baptist
    unaccredited schools as “religious right,” “Bible thumpers,” or
    “evangelically extreme,” GWC has personal experience with Coral Ridge
    and affirms that it is a quality religious studies school which agreed to open
    a branch called GWC to train for freedom using the Bible as the central
    text. GWC has made it clear that Hebrew is a central ancient language and
    the Bible the central text of the American Founding, and we affirm that
    being an unaccredited religious school in no way qualifies as being a degree
    mill. GWC broke off as an independent school in 2001, but we remain
    proud of our roots in the great religious tradition of the Southern Baptists at
    Coral Ridge, as well as affirming the great cultural heritage and important
    religious impact of all religions that work for goodness, freedom, and
    righteousness in the world.
    • The author of the article An Evaluation of Thomas Jefferson Education
    wrote that “. . . we strongly believe that parents need to provide guidance
    for their children to open as many doors to them as possible as they pass
    into adulthood and go on to further studies and specialization. We can’t
    leave children, who are not really mature enough to know what is best for
    them, to flounder on their own until their options for the future are
    diminished.” We couldn’t agree more. In addition, we affirm that the best
    way to do this is a combination of setting an example for them and
    simultaneously inspiring them to the highest levels of study instead of
    forcing them to meet mediocre bare minimums. If the parent’s education is
    lacking, we recommend a six month period where they really focus on
    starting a great education themselves, followed by years and years of close
    mentoring of their children to inspire them to the highest levels of quality
    study and quantity of time studying. Again, those who have attended
    several of our seminars and conferences, which we are trying to get as
    many people as possible to attend, have been “taught to inspire, not
    require” instead of “ignore, not require,” and that parents should be actively
    involved in each child’s education. Note that truly inspiring our children
    requires much more involvement than requiring and forcing—and this is
    exactly what we teach.
    • Thomas Jefferson was mentored from ages 19 to 23, as the author of An
    Evaluation of Thomas Jefferson Education stated. Before that, he was
    mentored by Rev. William Douglas from ages 14-16 then by personal
    attention from Professor Small and George Wythe at William and Mary
    from ages 16-19. Again, this was not tutorial, but rather the leadership type
    mentoring that we teach in the TJ Ed seminars. Besides, there is no rational
    similarity between the public school of the 1760s and today’s public
    education.
    • GWC unabashedly and boldly trains entrepreneurs. If students feel that
    leadership is not in their future, they should look very strongly at other
    schools rather than GWC. Entrepreneurs are more likely than perhaps any
    other career field to positively impact and be leaders in the future. Few
    schools teach entrepreneurship or quality leadership, and at GWC we affirm
    that this is a key element of any quality education.

    Sincerely,
    Shanon D. Brooks
    Vice President/COO

  233. TMD on June 3, 2008 at 8:39 pm

    Alison,

    I’m confused. You advanced a series of empirical claims about the achievement and performance of home schooled kids. But the fact is that these empirical claims are specious because unbiased quantitative data on these topics do not exist. That is to say, when you said that

    “TMD (#52), the problem with your position is that overall homeschoolers perform a great deal BETTER on not only standardized tests (75th-80th percentile as opposed to 50th), but also on tests measuring social, emotional, and psychological development. So vet away, but you might want to start first where the biggest problems occur–public schools.”

    you are relying on deeply problematic data that does not speak to the experience of most homeschoolers. Or, put differently, you are incorrect in the claim you make, because the data needed to sustain the claim does not exist. Thus you are equally errant when you claim that there is evidence that suggests that homeschoolers do better (I simply phrased it in an alternative way).

    It is the case that there have been efforts to make it possible to gather the data, but, the legislative and executive rule-making history shows that home-school lobbying organizations mobilized strongly against it, and were successful in preventing it. This is a purely factual claim, so, I don’t understand why you respond as if you think I am impugning anyone.

    The social network studies addressed both quantity of interaction (including negative) and it’s quality (the reference to intimacy, i.e., people you feel close to and perhaps confide in). And the real differences are in the quality of the interaction and the identity of the interactors: homeschooled children have fewer high quality, intimate relationships with non-family members generally and significantly fewer high quality intimate relationships with peers than non-homeschooled children. Substantively, then, the greatest difference here is in the number of bona fide friends–home schooled children have fewer.

  234. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    I note that many of the links in Jenson’s statement don’t work since it was written a few years ago but this one does; it is the only DeMille speech or writing on the net that I am aware of and it is a must-read for anyone who wants to know how this man thinks:

    http://www.geocities.com/Heartland/Prairie/6428/hs2a.pdf

  235. Naismith on June 3, 2008 at 8:57 pm

    “Yes, it’s those idiotic homeschoolers with dumbed down kids who are preventing the avant-garde academics from finding out just how dumb they really are!”

    Such sarcasm doesn’t really help the discussion. If the claim you are addressing is incorrect, and there are some studies with representative samples of homeschoolers, just post the citation.

    I don’t consider homeschoolers to be “idiotic.” I have great admiration for their efforts, because I couldn’t do it (I mean, I did for a semester, but I would not want to do it year after year).

    But I would be interested in a statistically sound basis for the oft-repeated claims about the superiority of home schooling.

  236. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 9:03 pm

    I’d like for the side conversation about testing of homeschoolers to cease; it isn’t relevant here and heavens knows this thread is already long enough.

  237. TMD on June 3, 2008 at 9:12 pm

    cheers,

    TMD

  238. Naismith on June 3, 2008 at 9:22 pm

    “I’d like for the side conversation about testing of homeschoolers to cease; it isn’t relevant here and heavens knows this thread is already long enough.”

    Julie, I totally respect your wishes, and won’t persist, but I don’t think it is irrelevant. I think your analysis of TJE has demonstrated the variety of homeschooling approaches out there, and calls into question this apparently popular approach.

    Solid research into the performance of ALL homeschoolers, with detailed data about the homeschooling philosophy used, if any, would greatly inform this discussion about TJE.

  239. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 9:26 pm

    Naismith, perhaps I should have worded it differently: good data on test scores of TJE students would of course be relevant to evaluating TJE, but a discussion of test scores and homeschooling *in general* (since there are no test scores correlated with homeschooling pedagogy of which I am aware) is too far afield from the topic of the merits of TJE, which is the topic of this post.

  240. Mark IV on June 3, 2008 at 9:59 pm

    The link Julie provided in # 234 is absolutely must reading. I cannot see how the man ever passed freshman English. “There is only three kinds of education”, confusion of their and they’re (in the same sentence!). His opening anecdote is almost surely a fabrication, or at least heavily embellished.

    The response from Shannon Brooks speaks for itself. I was amused at the threat of libel for referring to Coral Ridge as a diploma mill. It is both very funny and highly ironic that, should GWC ever decide to sue anybody, they would have to employ attorneys who were educated in the “conveyor belt” system, rather than their own people whose education is supposed to be so superior.

    To top it off, the event at which the speech linked in # 234 was delivered was called a “How Firm a Foundation” seminar. I give them credit for chutzpah, but not much else.

  241. Alison Moore Smith on June 3, 2008 at 10:10 pm

    Edje, I think you’re onto something!

    TMD, I already said I understood your position. You don’t accept the “deeply problematic data” I’m relying on. That’s fine. I accept it and my anecdotal experience for 15 years and meeting thousands of homeschoolers and speaking across the country and running web forums for homeschoolers and directing homeschool choirs and teaching homeschool classes and even being involved in testing (Stanford) them supports it.

    that does not speak to the experience of most homeschoolers.

    I think I probably have a better handle on “the experience of most homeschoolers” than you do, but please clarify your associations with them if I’m wrong.

    Still you go on to make claims about homeschooler’s socialization. How can you verify this while “unbiased quantitative data on these topics do not exist”? Or is only the anti-homeshooling data free from being “deeply problematic.”

    Still, we have plenty of empirical, peer-reviewed data showing the inefficiencies in public schools, no? So why not focus on problem areas that we can PROVE are problems, rather than on speculation that the “deeply problematic data” isn’t really as good as it claims to be?

    FWIW, I host multiple parties from upwards of 70 homeschoolers annually (in addition to multiple parties for my own (homeschooled) kids). Funny that I don’t see what you assert and, in fact, I’d never host 70 NON-homeschooled teens at one time. Anecdotal, absolutely, but also spot on in every area I’ve lived in. (i.e. large groups of non-homeschoolers have always resulted in property damage and kids sneaking off to grope in the weeds. But homeschoolers don’t appear to be socialized enough to figure out how to engage in group vandalism and petting?)

    A week and a half ago I spoke at a convention in SLC. The teens had wonderful socialization that looked markedly like what I’ve seen at school dances/parties–except that there weren’t kids simulating sex on the dance floor and the fat girls and 100-pound boys were involved, instead of standing by the snack table downing the Ding Dongs.

    I just spoke at a four-day homeschool conference in Virginia last week where there were hundreds of teens. I didn’t see the poor quality relationships there, either, just lots of laughter and fun. But they were lacking in the gang beating that we had at Willowcreek Middle in Lehi, Utah, a couple of weeks ago.

    Maybe we should define what we mean by socialization. Schools are about the last place I’d recommend sending a child to learn to be civilized and/or be independent and/or learn to get along. But maybe there’s something else we’re looking for.

    Perhaps I should clarify something. I define homeschooling in a different way than some of you might think. To me it’s not about where you school, it’s about who is in charge of it. In my home, the school board, the principal, etc. do not dictate what, when, and how we learn.

    If the cheerleading coach is the AP chemistry teacher (as is the case at Lehi High School) we don’t waste our time. We find a better source for chemistry (which would be just about anything in this case…) If the school has a very good program for something, we use it. But we only use it for the things that are actually beneficial to our kids.

    To be clear, I’m not anti-school. What I’m opposed to, if anything, is to let such an institution dictate what is best for educating my kids–when they not only do not know what is best, but doing what is best for my kids isn’t remotely their primary purpose.

    Still, in spite of the assumed deleterious effects of homeschooling, my “poorly socialized” kids can jump in and out of any situation and seem to not only survive, but thrive. When they aren’t in school, they work hard and learn a lot in a personalized way in a minimum amount of time. They have a great deal of time to pursue their interests. (BTW, many of their interests actually include living humans, which must be a shock.) When they attend any classes at school (which they can choose at any time and which I encourage when they start seminary) they excel academically (all three who have taken classes in middle or high school have straight 4.0 GPA) and have readily made big groups of great friends.

    More surprising, perhaps, is that they’ve made friends without resorting to following the school social strata. In fact, more often, they’ve been the ones to obliterate it. That comes from NOT being so peer-dependent as many schooled kids tend to be.

    One of my third daughter’s school teachers recently said, “Alana set the entire tone for the whole state honor choir event. It was amazing.” Another teacher said, “She is just remarkable. Where did she come from?”

    The truth is (again, in my anecdotal experience) kids get so accustomed to the school hierarchy (that great socialization, eh?) that they forget that they are reinforcing it by their own behavior. All it takes is ONE kid–in this case a homeschooled kid who isn’t socialized mainly by the peer group–to come in and say, “Hey, I don’t have to fall into line and march to your orders.” for the other kids to say, “Hey, that’s right!” Suddenly the cliques lose their power.

    To date my older children have been very successful as adults as well. My oldest (on scholarship at BYU), just finished her junior year. She has a great group of friends there as well as a slew from when she was homeschooled (and confined to our home 24/7 with no opportunities to interact with anyone but her siblings). She is an award winning film editor and writer. She edits BYU’s True Blue sports program and is currently one of eight post-production interns (out of over 3,000 applicants) in Burbank at Disney Studios.

    It’s amazing how she overcame the trauma of homeschool socialization and learned to deal with “the real world”–which apparently is being in an age-segregated room and confined to your assigned group and a particular table in the lunchroom for most of your waking life. Then again, maybe her friends just aren’t bona fide enough to qualify…

    So far, I see absolutely no drawbacks to homeschooling at all, unless you include the resources involved. But I feel it’s a privilege to have them around and to contribute so directly to their lives.

    To be clear, I don’t personally know ANY homeschooler (and I know thousands) for whom “homeschool” means “sit at the kitchen table and isolate yourself from the world.” IMO homeschooling simply gives you access to all the options, rather than being confined to a 7-hour-per-day, 180-day-per-year track that is dictated by a bunch of people who belong to the NEA.

    Sorry for the threadjack, Julie. I won’t post on it anymore. Honest.

    Back to post:

    Julie, thank you for all this info. I’m thrilled to have it all in one place. Yes, Brooks is the guy I spoke to as well when I was researching this.

    Thank you so much for posting Jenson’s writings. They express so many of my concerns as well.

    I’d love to be able to forward Jenson’s article to those who contact me about TJEd. I have a whole bunch of them from the last conference dinner. Would it be possible for Jenson to contact me or for you to forward my contact info to him?

    He can reach me at smitham at alphasmith dot com.

    Again, thank for all your time and effort on this!

  242. Alison Moore Smith on June 3, 2008 at 10:13 pm

    Julie, I (as you can probably tell) was typing while you posted your request to cease and desist. My apologies. As I said, I’m done with that tangent.

  243. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 10:51 pm

    Re #240–I think that the text of that DeMille speech was probably transcribed or digitized so I am not sure to what extent we should hold him responsible for the kind of errors you mention.

    That said, anyone who thinks that the best method of math instruction for elementary-aged children is for mom to sit on the couch reading Euclid and muttering “that sure is interesting” until the child is so inspired by her example that s/he decides to begin to study math . . . wow . . . I just don’t have the words.

  244. Ardis Parshall on June 3, 2008 at 11:23 pm

    234: Okay, you’ve given me exactly what I asked for — a sample of the education DeMille has absorbed from his studies of the classics, and presumably the model he would pass on to his devotees. ‘nough said.

  245. Julie M. Smith on June 3, 2008 at 11:28 pm

    And now that Ardis’ wish has been granted, I will close comments.

    We do leave at least one thread hanging: if anyone can confirm or deny what DeMille wrote re his credentials in the original edition of TJE, please email me and I will add it in. (And if there is anything else that you simply must get off of your chest, please email it to me as well. Use my first name AT timesandseasons DOT org.)

    Thank you all for a good conversation.

    UPDATE:

    (1) A TJE supporter emailed me his transcription of p22 of the original TJE. The only difference is that his has “respected private university” instead of “respected university.” In other words, it appears that Oliver DeMille lied in print about his credentials by claiming that he had graduated from BYU when he had in fact dropped out. (He did later earn a degree from BYU, which is even odder given his feelings for “conveyor belt education.”)

    (2) Here is some information sent to me about a few GWC graduates (not my words or research below):

    Kimberly Smith, Masters, Biblical Studies. Has authored two books on the subject of how the Bible only allows music that is not “carnal,” and why contemporary Christian music is thus an abomination (which I agree, it is, just for entirely different reasons…)

    Glen Kimber, PhD, Education. Runs — you guessed it — a home-schooling training and textbook business. Math: “The Kimber MATH method is principle-based. It teaches students to apply mathematic principles to life. Students actually create and solve their own problems, thus learning to self-govern with correct principles.” History: “The Kimber HISTORY is based on “Hook Dates.” Ten major dates are selected which cover a particular period of time (such as Old Testament and World History). To these dates is attached a significant personality of the time. Then to this information is attached a significant event. An example of this is 4,000 B.C. The personalities are Adam and Eve. The Events are the world’s creation and the Fall.”

    Ann B. Tracy, PhD, Health Sciences. She’s the crusader against antidepressants who got a PhD after self-publishing a book about Prozac. From the Deseret News, August 21, 2004. “In 1991, Tracy wrote an 80-page pamphlet called “Prozac: Panacea or Pandora?” Three years later she expanded it into a 424-page book that she published herself. She wrote a lot of it longhand, while sitting in the Salt Lake LDS Temple: the one place, she says, where she was sure Satan didn’t have a foothold.”

    Mark D. Siljander, Ph.D., International Business, from GWC. Was a U.S. Congressman from Michigan an Reagan appointee to the UN delegation in the 1980s. Now runs a consulting/lobbying/import-export business and serves in various capacities of various far-right organizations and defense funds. Oh, and in January of this year he was indicted for money laundering, conspiracy, and obstruction, in relation to that case where money to a supposed Islamic charity was going to a terrorist organization. Was an adjunct at GWC — in fact his pages still up, though it’s not linked to from the current faculty list. Links: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mark_D._Siljander#2008_indictment
    http://www.gwc.edu/about/faculty_staff/msiljander.php

    (3) There is an anti-GWC google group:
    http://groups.google.com/group/anti-gwc

    The file “DiplomaDeMille.doc” that you can read there is really good stuff–it has links to all sorts of DeMille materials that I couldn’t otherwise find on the web, including this gem:

    “No classic is more important than the Book of Mormon, yet is [sic] has never been used as a central curriculum like the Old Testament, New Testament and the Koran. Not only does the Book of Mormon contain all the necessary fields of study, at levels from Kindergarten to Doctoral studies, it also provides its own specific guidelines for how and what to study—both for religious and secular education. In short, it is the classic of classics, and it’s about time to start utilizing it as such.”

    That same document contains some delightful quotes from the CRBU (where DeMille claimed he got the best education) catalog including this gem: “More people than any other singular language in the world use the Spanish language worldwide.” Not only is the grammar a train wreck, but it isn’t true!